This Week In Gaming – 05.04.2019

This week Jason Schreier, the best journalist in the gaming industry drops a huge story about Anthem, Borderlands 3 gets a release date and the next Assassins Creed may have been leaked in The Division 2. All that plus the usual waffle this week in gaming. 

What I’ve been playing

I’ve had a busy week, so I have only really played more of the same. Apex and The Division 2 continue to dominate my gaming time, although I am getting the hankering for a single player experience. With Days Gone just weeks away I am trying to hold out for that, but some of my old favourites are calling me.

All the Borderlands news has made me tempted to jump into Borderlands 2, but on top of that my all time no.1 favourite game of all time Skyrim is sitting there on my Xbox and PS4 dashboards, tempting me to dive back in and replay through all of the stories I know back to front. I think I can hold out for another few weeks, with the satisfaction of those sweet sweet Apex Legends Wins and the satisfying grind of The Division sustaining me.

I look forward to updating you on my 500th Skyrim play through next week.

Kotaku Anthem Article

If you are reading this you probably have somewhat of an interest in the Gaming industry. If you do, I suggest you follow Jason Schreier on Twitter. He is the top journalist in the gaming industry in my opinion. His latest excellent story comes from Anthem developer BioWare, and 19(!) anonymous sources who detailed the troubled development of EA’s much maligned game.

I encourage you all to go over to Kotaku.com and read the article, but the general story is that the game suffered a very confusing production process, with several decisions not being made until as late as 12 months before the games release. These important creative decisions combined with the problem that EA’s game engine Frostbite brought with it made the game a development nightmare. The issues are plentiful, but not particularly new to the triple A game development world. The story sheds light on the conditions that people are working in within the games industry and that sometimes the heads of these companies need to take a step back and look at the bigger picture.

BioWare is a studio that has the potential to produce the very best games we see. They created the excellent Mass Effect series as well as the Star Wars epic Knights of the Old Republic. They then saw more success with Dragon Age Inquisition, which insiders cite as the worst thing that could have happened due to the incredible crunch the studio went through to produce the Dragon Age game.

Crunch, if you don’t know, is the name for the big push developers make to finish a game by a deadline. It’s been a part of the games development cycle for years, but over the last few years we have been seeing a swell of discontent towards this process, as it really does have an effect on the mental health and happiness of the people who make the games we love so much. It’s a huge issue, and I personally think games should be given as much time as they need to be complete. If stories like this lead to better decisions from the people in positions of power at the big companies than I am all for it!

Borderlands 3 Release Date & incredible box art unveiled

With last weeks PAX event confirming the existence of Borderlands 3, 4 days later Gearbox have revealed that the game will be in people’s hands on 13th September 2019. Just 5 months away. This is excellent news to me, and I am glad they are going with the unveil and quick release approach being my preferred method, against the “Tease a game for years” method adopted by games like Last of Us 2 and Death Stranding.

They dropped a new trailer online, which showed off the characters and the villains, along with more shots of the environments we will be seeing in the game. Borderlands 3 looks like it’s going  to be by far the biggest one yet, and Guns with Legs certainly does seem cool, but I am not sure we are getting anything really new aside from the planets and the characters. My only question is; Is that Enough?

I love the borderlands games, they’re great fun and at the time were groundbreaking for the Co-op RPG genre. However so far Borderlands 3 seems like they are just giving us another Borderlands 2, but with more guns and more locations. To me, that kind of update is DLC level content not enough for an entire game.

I am assuming there are going to be a lot of small touches that will make the game smoother and more diverse in terms of class choices and gameplay styles, but so far we haven’t seen anything that’s made me really think this is a PS4/Xbox One game rather than a PS3 or 360 one. There is a gameplay demo coming in a few weeks so lets hope we see something then that wows me a little.

Assassins Creed Ragnarok

What a name that would be. One of my personal favourite games of 2018 was Assassins Creed Odyssey, and I have been toying with going back to the game regularly to see whats ben updated. Ubisoft confirmed there wouldn’t be an immediate follow-up, as they were focused on supporting the world they’d built with that excellent game.

Eagle eyed gamers have spotted posters in The Division 2 picturing a Viking holding a globe like ornament. Nothing in that right? except when you zoom in you can see the ornament is the infamous Apple of Eden from the Assassins Creed franchise. This poster along with concept art leaks with the title “Assassins Creed Ragnarok” attached to them have led to the assumption that the next game in the time hopping series will be set in the norse world of the Vikings.

On paper, it all makes sense. They are some of the most famous sailors in history, so the boat mechanics perfected in the last few AC titles are easily implemented, and the norse mythology is some of the most epic and ripe for storytelling we have available to us. On top of that, they were famously savage fighters, meaning the hack and slash gameplay perfectly suits the style of that time period. Comparisons may be made to the masterpiece that was God of War, but I think they are to wildly different games. AC has evolved into a sprawling, multi layered, branching story role-playing game set in a huge world with a hundred of hours of gameplay there for the audience’s enjoyment. God Of War is a much smaller story and I expect the follow-up to be a similarly intimate in nature.

I really hope this turns out to be true, but time will tell. Ubisoft have a history of hinting at future games in their current releases, so I think this has a pretty good chance of coming true.

Until next week!

 

 

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This Week In Film – 25.03.2019

I have really enjoyed writing about gaming news the last few weeks, so I am going to bring that same format to the Movie news world, bringing you all the news that interested me, including the box office news and my thoughts on any trailers from the last week. This week Us released in theatres, I go back over the Avengers trailer, and the Elton John biopic runs into some rating issues. 

Box Office Breakdown

This week Get Out director Jordan Peele released his newest film into cinema’s, the freaky horror “Us”. I haven’t got round to seeing it yet, partly because of a busy weekend, partly because I think it might scare the bejesus out of me. That didn’t keep a lot of people in the US from going out this weekend and watching it. Bringing in $70 million on its opening weekend is a great showing, and proves the director has really caught the attention of the movie going audience. The aforementioned Get Out made a respectable $33 million on its first weekend, so doubling that with your second film will make studios desperate to get their hands on his next script.

Coming in second this weekend is Captain Marvel, hanging in there at $35 million and taking its worldwide total over $900 million and up to 10th in the MCU domestic rankings. It’s another example of how well Marvel have brought in regular members of public hooked on their films. Captain Marvel is a very obscure character, and yet its made $100 million more than Wonder Woman, an iconic character known around the world. Marvel will be very happy with this just a month before Avengers Endgame hits theatres.

Avengers Trailer Spoilers?

Speaking of the Endgame, what I hope is the final trailer dropped a couple of weeks ago and predictably sent the internet crazy with theories and speculation. The trailer does give a little away, supposedly anyway, and I will be mentioning that in some detail here but I personally don’t think any of it is a spoiler.

In the trailer there is a clear shot towards the end that shows Tony Stark and Nebula on earth, with the rest of the Avengers in hitherto unseen matching white suits. This is considered by some as a major spoiler, as it gives away that Tony and Nebula make it back to earth when in previous trailers and the end of the last film we saw them on their own in outer space with no way of getting home. For me this breaks down to being about the journey, not so much the destination.

Avengers Endgame is going to be the story of how the avengers will overcome Thanos and save the heroes they lost. There is little doubt in my mind that the vast majority of the heroes who got ‘dusted’ at the end of Infinity War will be saved somehow. What I am in the dark about is how, and that is why I am so excited to see Endgame. The journey to that point and the wins and losses along the way have been set up so perfectly that Endgame is the most anticipated movie in my lifetime.

R-Rocketman rating

Kingsman star Taron Egerton’s portrayal of Elton John is one of the most anticipated movies of the year for many. The success of Bohemian Rhapsody last year paved the way for another music icon based biopic, and Rocketman is looking to fill that place. One part of what made Bohemian Rhapsody successful was that it was a film for the entire family, however it’s looking like Rocketman is unlikely to have that same wholesome quality.

Rocketman apparently contains scenes with strong sexual content and hard drug consumption, suggesting the film will go into the dark side of being a rockstar much more than the Queen biopic dared to. The scene has led to suggestions that the film may receive an “R” rating and lead to a narrowing of the potential audience for the picture.

The film is still a way off, not being due for release until 17th May 2019. That gives them a few months to edit the scene and cut around the F words and any nudity to earn the scene, and the film, the PG 13 rating that I think they are aiming for. I for one hope the film gets the lower rating, as I am hoping for a celebration of Elton John’s music in the same way Bohemian Rhapsody celebrated Queens.

Thanks for reading this, This Week in Film will develop just as This Week in Gaming does, and Wednesday’s will be new reviews of new and old films, till next time!

Google Stadia changes the Game

19th March 2019 will go down in history as the day Google arrived in the gaming industry. Google held their GDC press conference where they unveiled Stadia. It is their new video game streaming platform. I will try to go over the main points but I urge anyone who has a keen interest in the games industry to go and watch the highlights of the conference on YouTube.

Stadia allows you to play top end video games using any screen, and using any controller, all via a Google Chrome browser. There is no need for a box, you can play everything regardless of the processing power you have available to you. Everything is done in Googles own data centres, and then streamed to your device.

At launch, which is yet to be confirmed exactly but will be 2019, Stadia will be able to stream at 4k, with HDR at 60 fps. If that’s gibberish to you, that is the best picture the current top end TV’s can handle. Google has built the data centres so that they can keep up with technology as it advances, meaning when 8k and  120 fps becomes the accepted level, Stadia will be able to get there with no hassle for any consumers.

All of these stats might not mean much to you, but to put it in terms that make a little more sense, one single instance of Stadia is more powerful than an Xbox One X and a PS4 Pro combined. That is impressive on its own, but Stadia does not just allow you to access one instance at a time. If the game requires it, there will be several processing units dedicated to your game, meaning the processing power is essentially limitless.

Developer Heaven

This news must be absolute heaven for developers, as it now means they no longer have to scale their ideas to the consoles they are being released on. To date this has never been the case, even PC gaming is limited by the most powerful PC’s as they run on one single processing unit. Right now we are pretty much at the limit of what video games can be on console with things like The Last Of Us 2 and Red Dead Redemption 2 the top end of what is achievable on these platforms.

On top of all the power, google announced a slate of tools for devs to utilise Stadia as best they can. I am not versed enough in the developer world to know what the applications of these services will be but by all accounts they seem incredible. It’s made me incredibly excited for where games are heading. Streaming technology allows devs to make games that can allow for 100s of people to play simultaneously. The example they used on stage was taking battle royale games like Fortnite from 100 players up to 1000, which is an insane idea.

Sharing is Caring

On their new controller is a share button, which is nothing particularly new. The special thing Google have is that they own YouTube. The share button now allows you to share your game as it’s being played around the world to anyone and everyone. This could change the way people watch video games, and must be a huge issue for streaming platform Twitch.

You can also share moments in games, and your friends will be able to jump straight in and play that exact game through their own device. It’s hard to make much sense of the amount of applications this technology has and it’s all part of this new platform.

One idea that really showed how innovative Google are being with this was the ability to jump into a game with your favourite youtuber from the channel as you watch them. If that doesn’t make sense, imagine you are watching a youtuber laying Apex Legends, you can click on “Join game” and it will put you in a queue to join into the exact game you are watching. That opens up a whole new world of interaction with content creators on YouTube and other platforms.

The future is here

Stadia is being built to give developers the tools to make anything they want, and let gamers play it however they want. Watching the stream felt odd, and the ramifications of this announcement will be felt around the entire games industry. Stadia Games and Entertainment is their own first party, focussed on making Stadia exclusive games, and that’s another example of how google are approaching this.

Microsoft and Sony will have been watching this conference and from all reports I know of, they will have been a tad worried about the new competitor on the block. Consoles are such a key part of the gaming industry right now, and have been for such a long time. Google today showed us a glimpse at a new world. A world without boxes. There’s no price point, and it requires a good internet connection but they are the only barriers to entry we are yet to find out about. They promised more will be revealed this summer, and I will bring you all the news on the site when it happens.

Stadia launches this year. Over to you Microsoft and Sony. Google has arrived in the games industry.

This Week In Gaming – 08.03.2019

This week we have Microsoft cutting out their discs, EA announcing no conference during E3,  and the new PS4 firmware update that allows you to play on your mobile. That and all my usual waffle about what I have been playing this week below. 

What I’ve been playing

This week has been a movie week for me, and therefore games have taken a bit of a back seat. I did however manage to finish off Anthem, and get my first win on Apex Legends. Two games I have written a lot about over the last few weeks. Apex continues to be a game I want to play more of, whilst Anthem is very much the opposite.

Anthem sits in a very weird place for me right now. I do like the game, in fact I like every part of the game. When combined though, something just doesn’t feel right. I am left with the opinion Anthem is a really good BioWare, single player game, with the multiplayer looter shooter components strapped onto the game to make it into a live service. It has great characters, but if you’re playing through the game with friends in your party you will miss the majority of the best moments in the game.

Enough about the games I played, and onto the news this week!

Microsoft leaving their Discs out

Brad Sams at Thurrott.com (full story here) has revealed Microsoft’s plans to release a new Xbox one which will be the first of the major consoles to launch without a disc drive. The new all digital Xbox is being released with the aim to lower the barrier to entry for customers into the Xbox ecosystem. This news is the latest in a number of customer friendly stories that have come out around the Xbox system in the last few weeks, and I for one think the signs are positive, as I have mentioned before.

A digital downloads only console is another sign for me that Xbox is keen to really shock the industry with its next platform. If they are planning for Xbox Scarlett to be available as a service, it will of course not have a disk drive. This new level of Xbox could serve as the gateway drug for a lot of people into this new world, a world without having to get up off my butt and find the case for the game I want to play.

rumours suggest the targeted price for the digital Xbox is less than $200 (Post Brexit that’s just a cool £30,000.00) so it seems the idea is to get this xbox in as many homes as possible and get their foot in the door before the next-gen. The question I have is whether or not this move is a little late in the day. By now, if you are a PS4 only owner you are heavily invested in their system, and unlikely to want to change. The low price point may be enough to provoke one or two impulse buys, but I just cannot see this making a dent in Sony’s stranglehold over Xbox when it comes to active consoles on the market.

That thinking does lead me to believe that once again Microsoft are playing the long game, possibly taking a hit financially here, to gain favor with the public and increase their public image with the next console war on the horizon. They do not have an exclusive game to attract fans like Uncharted or Spiderman, but they have a Game Pass which will give Digital only Xbox owners a huge range of games to play from day one. My guess would be each digital console will come with a few months Game Pass included, just to get people’s toes in the water of the Xbox well.

E3 weekend loses another conference

E3 was the major event of the year in the gaming industry up until just a few years ago. It’s one of those events that I have followed and enjoyed all of the news and content that comes out of the show. Over the last few years the event has seen its guest list of companies throwing press conference has steadily shrunk, down to the point where now E3 is just another event, along with the PAX events and even San Diego Comic Con. It is still the biggest event of its kind, but the gulf has largely disappeared.

EA left the official show a few years ago, and launched their EA Play weekend to coincide with the week of E3. Each of these events to date has featured a key press conference, with game announcements, trailers and unveilings presented in the same manner Sony and Microsoft have done for years. They have now decided to pivot to streaming events for different games, a move which I think only EA could pull off.

EA as a publisher boast one of the widest ranges of games on its roster. Alongside franchises like Battlefield, Anthem and Apex Legends, they have the entire flock of EA Sports titles like FIFA and Madden. This huge range means a more focused stream approach should allow viewers to just tune in and watch a good showcase of the games they are most interested in. At present, fans of battlefield have to sit through a whole EA sports section, which could be featuring games they have no interest in.

It opens up the old debate of “Does the industry still need E3?” and for me the answer is a resounding Yes. The show is a focal point for news announcements as well as a place we can see the full diverse range of video games. Here’s hoping nobody else pulls out of the show.

PS4 Firmware Update might hint at their plans

Now this story is almost entirely speculation on my part, but I had a lot of fun last week with the Xbox predictions, so here is my thoughts on the direction Sony might be heading with their next console. The most recent firmware update to the PS4 allowed for access from iOS devices. Now this has been possible for a number of years on Sony’s own mobile devices, but this is the first time we’ve seen PS4 games accessible outside of their own ecosystem as far as I know.

What’s interesting about this to me is the fact that some people at Sony are still working on mobile integration even this close to the announcement of the next console. Could Sony’s next console be able to be played remotely from anywhere? I doubt it, but why on earth are people there still working away on this type of unrequested feature if the technology behind it wasn’t going to aid with their next console. I have never seen much fanfare around playing games via mobile. As our phones become more and more like small PCs, the possibility of me actually enjoying a big blockbuster game via a mobile is increasingly likely.

There are absolutely no details of the PS5, and Sony has no reason to rush it out. I am, as you may have been able to tell, absorbed by the mind games both companies are playing. Right now Xbox has all the work to do, and they seem determined to do it. Sony is in the dangerous position of being on top of the mountain, with everything to lose. The next round of consoles may be the last we ever see, with a digital only world fast approaching, so the winner of this final bout between Xbox and PlayStation may find themselves as the leader of the pack for a long time.

And of course, Nintendo will always Nintendo.

This Week in Gaming – 01.03.2019

This week I go over what games I’ve been playing in the last 7 days, discuss the Pokemon 8th generation announcement, take a quick look at the anthem release and the big story this week for me is Xbox Game Pass potentially showing us a glimpse of the future of Microsoft’s gaming platform. 

What I’ve been playing

This week started with Anthem. It’s a fun enough game, and as my review last monday mentioned, I think it is a good basis for what could become a good, possibly great game. I have to say though, it has not kept me on the hook and wanting more. The last few times I have logged in, I have played Anthem because it’s what i feel i should do, rather than what I necessarily want to play. For me personally, that is a very bad sign.

I did eventually find myself dusting off my PS4 controller, and jumping back onto Fifa 19 for the first time in months. Perhaps it’s my beloved Arsenal’s recent form, but I had a scratch only Pro Clubs could scratch. For those who don’t know, Pro Clubs is the game mode on fifa where you control one player on the pitch, and have to play your position. Ultimate Team is where the money lies, and the career mode is where a lot of hours are clocked up, but for me Pro Clubs is where the best football minds on fifa go to show their skills.

I am not an excellent gamer, I don’t claim to be the best at COD or Fortnite or Apex, I am decent, and can have a great game now and then, but I know my limits. When it comes to Pro Clubs on fifa, I am confident in being one of the best players I know of, and in my position (Box to Box Central midfielder) I am the best I know of. Humble brag. Anyway, that’s what I did this week, played five games with some of my old fifa team mates online, and we won all five. Now enough of my bragging, onto this weeks news.

Pokey Mans

Detective Pikachu’s trailers have made me excited for a Pokemon film, more than I would have ever imagined. The first games Pokemon games I have played a few times through, and I have some great memories with them. Since Gen 1, i have fallen out of the franchise completely, and I could not name more than 3 of the Pokemon from Gen 2 onwards.

This week, Nintendo called a Pokemon Direct, where they unveiled the newest additions to the Pokemon franchise, Pokemon Sword and Shield. In what is apparently a UK inspired setting, we see a more detailed, 3D world, and some new features that I am sure excited the hardcore Pokemon fans. For me though, Pokemon needed to do something drastically different. By now, everyone knows what Pokemon games are, every kid has their pokemon game. Mine was years ago, and when I look at this new game, it seems like things have not changed beyond the graphics. The idea is still seemingly to take one of your 3 starter pokemon, slowly gather more, and then eventually beat the evil corporation and become the best trainer in the region.

I sincerely hope that these games are exactly what their audience want, but to get someone like me to be interested, I needed something closer to Breath of the Wild. I didn’t get into that game because Zelda’s world doesn’t appeal to me, the Pokemon world does. A full RPG game, with the Pokemon creatures out in the wild to be engaged with in a new way would have made me severely regret departing with my Switch. As it is, I am comfortable that I made the right decision for me.

Anthem out of tune?

I have written a lot about Anthem in the last week, and by now I am sure you are sick of reading it, if you are one of the few who reads this regularly. Thanks for the support if so! Anthem’s launch has been rough, and apparently the sales figures haven’t exactly blown anyones minds either. The headlines read particularly gloomy, with a fraction of Mass Effect Andromeda’s sales figures being touted as the number. In reality I think the number is a bit higher, but there is no doubt it has not caught the imagination quite like EA wanted, and perhaps expected it to.

Apex Legends launched just a week before Anthem, and seems to have done exactly what Anthem was expected to do. Apex has become a phenomenon, with people I wouldn’t expect asking me about that new game they’ve seen people on twitter or Facebook talking about. Anthem by comparison, has been a barely visible ripple in the pop culture pool. As I’ve stated a few times, I quite like the game, but something is missing when it comes to that buzz you normally get from a big  game launch. BioWare need to keep the support up, and deliver regular updates straight away to keep people coming back to the game. Something to keep an eye on in the coming weeks.

Game Pass, present and future? 

My apologies for the terrible pun sub-title.

This week it was found that Microsoft has begun to push elements of its Xbox infrastructure onto the Windows platform PC users are familiar with. I won’t pretend to understand the details, but there is a tonne of detail in the story linked here in a story on Thurrott.com by Brad Sams. Long story short, Microsoft seem to be getting rid of the differences between how xbox and PC games are run, and bringing them together so that Xbox games could potentially be run on a PC. What does all this potentially mean?

Earlier this month, we saw an announcement about xbox live coming to Nintendo Switch. This led to stories that Microsoft could bring Game Pass, the best deal in the games industry, onto the Nintendo platform. This would mean that Nintendo players could play Xbox games, possibly including exclusive titles like Halo, on their Switch. Now of course we know the Switch doesn’t have the power under the hood to run games requiring the power that a Xbox One can provide, let alone a Xbox One X.

How would they get around this lack of processing power? Potentially with their own games streaming service. I speculated last week that Google may be dipping into the market and being the first games streaming available for the public. Microsoft have already announced they are working on a similar project, and that more will be unveiled in the coming months. Could the Project Scarlett we have been told about be a completely new type of console. Is it possible Xbox will become a service? So on top of being a console you can buy, there is also a dongle you can plug into anything, and an app on your TV or devices, and even an app on Microsoft’s rivals consoles.

PlayStation is so far out in front of Xbox that Microsoft are having to make calls that are risky, perhaps not cost efficient, and they seem to be approaching it with the consumers desires at the forefront of their minds. Is their plan is to make their games, their brand, available anywhere. Imagine if Microsoft announce that they are making the vast library of Xbox games available to everyone, regardless of the console they can afford. All you need is a subscription to Xbox Live, or whatever name they give the service, and you are free to browse the library of games and buy what you want.

It is no secret that the console making companies lose money on their Hardware sales. They make their profits through the cut of the money they take from the sales of every game on the platform. With this kind of service, they will still need to build the hardware, but can save a lot on packaging all the complex components in a nice, living room friendly shell, and shipping them around the world. Instead they can install the centres they mentioned in their last E3 conference around the world, allow anyone to connect to it via the internet with a relatively low-cost subscription, and voila, everyone is buying and playing games on their platform. Cloud processing has been a reality for a while, and google proved with their Assassins Creed test last year that it works. Microsoft have something Google doesn’t the Xbox brand. A well-known name in the world, one that immediately makes anyone think of video games.

Could Xbox be ready to change gaming, and bring it to the entire world? I could be completely wrong, but who knows, maybe Game Pass on switch is just the beginning.

For more speculation, ramblings and opinions on games, movies and TV, follow Screenbunka on Instagram, Facebook and twitter. Thanks for reading!

This week in Gaming – 15.02.2019

I love video games, and I love the industry news and events that come up, so I am going to post a round-up of stories that mattered to me in the last week in the gaming world. This week Activision Blizzard piss off the entire industry, Respawn take on Fortnite, and Nintendo announce new(ish) Zelda and Mario games. 

This week has been a tumultuous one for the industry, with Activision Blizzard’s earnings call with investors causing controversy. The short summary of the story is that Activision have had a record year, with huge profits, and their reaction to this news is to fire roughly 800 members of their staff. On the face of it, it’s an extremely unethical and irresponsible move from the people in charge at Activision Blizzard.

The business side of things, it seems like their reasoning is relatively sound. They are planning to cut down costs whilst producing more games, which is an understandably attractive proposition for any business. The worry here is that you cannot increase production, cut costs, and still maintain the quality of games that we, video game players, demand.

To play devils advocate, they have just lost Bungie, and the Destiny franchise has gone with the developer. It wouldn’t surprise me if some of the layoffs are related to the marketing side of Activision that were focused on the Destiny games. However, Activision CEO Bobby Kotick inferred that despite “recording record results” they still fell below the expectations for 2018, leading to revised, lower expectations in 2019 and this is why they are “restructuring”. Kotick avoids the words layoff and firing very purposely, spinning everything to a positive for the investors he was speaking to.

The people being laid off are all talents, and I am sure will find roles elsewhere, but its a measure of the unrealistic expectations the big video game companies have. They are not content with making a lot of money, they need to make all of the money. Every year has to be bigger, exponential growth is the target, and that is not an attainable one. Their “ambition” is much more suited to the word “Greed”.

Apex Legends FTW

In much more positive news, Respawn (creators of the underappreciated Titanfall franchise) dropped their take on the Battle Royale craze that has a hold of the gaming world lately with Apex Legends. They are not the first to jump onto the wagon of course, even Fortnite was after PUBG, which itself was a mod for another game before that.

Apex Legends takes the basics of the game, i.e. drop in a large map, scramble and scavenge for weapons, ammo, and armor, then fight it out/hide in a small room until you’re the last one left standing. Apex’s unique selling point, and the ace up its sleeve for me, is the hero shooter mechanics they introduce. Blizzard’s Overwatch game is the best example of a Hero Shooter, and what Respawn have done is take the best elements of that genre, and smash them together with the Battle Royale genre, and make it work perfectly.

I have played a fair bit of Fortnite, a little of PUBG, and a lot of Overwatch back in the day. Apex Legends is as accessible as Fortnite, as fun as Overwatch, and as intense as PUBG. I haven’t enjoyed playing any of the other games on my own very much, but Apex makes playing with randoms in your trio incredibly easy, all without having to use your mic. The RB/R1 button is used brilliantly to communicate with your teammates in a way that is actually effective.

The shooting mechanics are solid, better than Fortnite and PUBG, although perhaps a little behind Call of Duty Blackout. There is no building to master here, the main barrier to entry in Fortnite, and the class abilities are useful without ever feeling overpowered. It’s a very solid game, a great foundation for Respawn to build on and create a rival for Fortnite’s Battle Royale crown. At the moment there is only one game mode, but I expect to see a lot of support for Apex, just like Epic offered with Fortnite.

Nintendo New Game News

I recently sold my Nintendo Switch, as it had been sitting gathering dust for the last 6 months after I had finished with Overcooked. Smash Ultimate is fun, but i have a friend who owns it, and playing alone did not appeal to me at all. So after this weeks Nintendo Direct announcements, I have to say I am… happy I made that decision.

Fire Emblem has never been a franchise I know or care much about and it’s never appealed to me, but there is a lot of news for that out there if that’s your kind of game. There are 2 games I was intrigued by in the direct, Super Mario Maker 2 and Tetris 99.

Mario Maker seems like a great idea, allowing the huge community to create their own Mario levels will lead to some brilliant and creative experience’s. The Little Big Planet franchise had its hooks in me for a hot minute back in the PS3 days, playing other people’s creations was really entertaining. I was never a creator myself, but it was a really cool idea. Mario Maker aims to capture that promise, and deliver it with the polish we expect from the Mario franchise.

Tetris 99 I don’t fully understand, but it sounds fascinating. Essentially its Tetris Battle Royale. 99 players all play at the same time, the winner being the last one out I assume, or perhaps there is a timer and it’s whoever has the highest score in that time. Its a clever way to make tetris competitive, and it’s the only reason I miss owning a switch right now.

The other announcement people might really care about is the remake/remaster of Links Awakening. I never played it, I have never really enjoyed a Zelda game and the art styled doesn’t appeal to me, but I know I am very much in the minority on this one. For those of you that want to relive the 1993 Game Boy classic can do so later this year.

That’s it for this week in gaming, thanks for reading!

Credit to Kinda Funny Games Daily, Kotaku, and The Verge for some of the information above. 

 

 

21st July 2008

I was 15 and I was sitting in my chair waiting for it to start. Watching the logos go past with so much trepidation and excitement I want sure I’d be able to last the whole film without leaving to pee. Once the film started, I barely remembered to breath for the next 2 hours and 32 minutes, let alone leave the cinema.

Ten years and countless viewings later, I can replay every key scene in my head as if its playing in front of me. The bank heist, the magic trick, the parade, the interrogation, the chase, the boats, the final confrontation.

I had never experienced anything like this in a cinema. A film that redefined an entire genre and made it cool to be a geek. I already was of course, throughout my childhood I was fascinated by the two characters I was watching on-screen.

Heath Ledger, initially shunned and mocked for being too much of a pretty boy and not fit for the role. He was playing a character that many thought had been done to perfection in the late 80’s. Somehow he defied the doubters and gave a performance that is the gold standard for an antagonist in modern films.

Leaving the cinema I couldn’t really get my head round enjoying a movie so much I wanted to see it again straight away. I’ve been going nearly every week for four years now and very few films have quite captured my imagination like this film did. It’s why I started following movie news and one of the films that made me want to write about the industry.

The Dark Knight was released 10 years ago. Right as the MCU was beginning, and before the Avengers had ever been considered a real possibility. Created by one of the best directors around, given the licence to do what he wanted with a DC character. There was no need for world building or setting up another film in the same cinematic universe. I don’t even think the term cinematic universe was coined at the time.

I know some people don’t have any interest in superhero films. I am a geek so I naturally love all this type of stuff. The Dark Knight is not just another superhero movie. It’s a story about two people with wildly different beliefs, presented as an action film with costumes and make up. It is, in my opinion, the best superhero film ever made. It is also my favourite movie of all time. So 10 years on, I thought now would be a good time to write something about The Dark Knight.

Today, as DC continue to stumble about in the dark chasing the Marvel Cinematic Universe, maybe they should look at their past for the template to succeed with their characters. To be clear, I don’t mean dark and realistic, I mean getting a super talented story-teller like Nolan and giving them the creative freedom to do what they think is best. Aquamans trailer should drop this weekend and perhaps that will hint at a good film, here’s hoping DC can find the winning formula again.