This Week In Gaming – 29.03.2019

Borderlands 3 was finally unveiled by Gearbox with a great trailer in a press conference littered with technical problems. On top of that we had Sony debuting their “State of Play” events, which was essentially a Nintendo Direct but for PlayStation, and Days Gone released a trailer that finally got me excited for the game. All that and the usual waffle this week in gaming!

What I’ve Been Playing

Today, thursday, I won 3 games of Apex Legends. Each win justifies the past hour of poor loot drops and quick deaths after deploying worth all the pain. I am absolutely hooked on this game and long may it continue. The new character has added a new dynamic to the game, and I think the community is ready for some map changes. The battle pass disappointment has fallen by the wayside, and now I am just chasing the sweet sweet nectar of victory.

I have been playing a bit of The Division 2 as well, teaming up with a mate really does make the game a lot more fun. Clearing rooms of enemies strategically covering one whilst the other moves into a new position to get a better angle is very satisfying. The game showed me the first signs of the loot cycle, something which I think could get me hooked given enough time. I am going to keep going back to this as there are no other games out soon that I am waiting for. The next big games out are late april when Mortal Kombat and PlayStation exclusive Days Gone hit the shelves, but more on Days Gone later.

What I have not played, nor had any real thought about in the last couple of weeks, is Anthem. A game that dominated the news in the build up and then dominated the news in all the wrong ways weeks later. The game is decent, and then you finish the story, and that’s it, it’s over. It was built to be a new, live service that gamers could keep coming back to. The problem is the loot is terrible, and being in the looter shooter genre that is a bit of a problem. I reckon the game will be better in 6 months, but it’s released in a really odd place in term of where the game is in its development, and it almost feels unfinished.

Borderlands 3 unveiled

I have written before about my appreciation for the Borderlands games. I saw a post on Reddit remarking that Borderlands 2 is a Desert Island game, and that is an excellent way to describe the franchise. They are huge games, giving players hours and hours of content. Gearbox knows it’s a popular franchise, as they have now remastered the original Borderlands game, and will be releasing an Ultra HD update for the Handsome Jack collection which has Borderlands 2 and the Pre-Sequel, which is hundreds of hours of gameplay for people to enjoy while they wait for the main event.

Now, the Borderlands 3 trailer itself is excellent, showing off the game well, and even if the graphics don’t seem particularly different from 6 years ago, I reckon in-game we will be able to see the effects of a the generation jump. However the excellent trailer was the end cap on a bizarre press conference, with Gearbox chief Randy Pitchford using it to display his magic skills and seemingly promote himself as a celebrity. This weirdness was broken up by some laughable technical hitches, with the trailers faltering and at one point stopping completely. Right up until the Borderlands 3 trailer debuted in all its glory… At the second attempt, after the initial display seemed to be jumping as if it was lagging.

Technical issues aside, the audience in the room ate it up, because it was the return of a truly beloved Franchise. Cosplayers cheered and whooped at every reveal in the trailer, and laughed at every joke. The game is bringing back all of the characters we have grown to know over the last few games, and although it featured plenty of gameplay we didn’t get any definitive information of whether the game is a straight up sequel that plays just like Borderlands 2, or if this is going the Live Service route. My gut feeling from the trailer is that the game is going for a straight sequel, Co-op fun game, with more characters we can enjoy just like the previous games did. The villains look stylish and hopefully they can be half the villain Handsome Jack was, although even that is some task. The trailer ends with the promise of more news on April 3rd, so keep your eyes out for next week’s TWIG (This Week In Gaming, what a great acronym) as we will have all the news there.

Sony in a State of Play

PlayStation owners Sony have been slowly changing the way they do their announcements. From cancelling the annual PSX event, to pulling out of the mega-show that is E3, they have been moving towards a new way of delivering their news. This week they released their first “State of Play” video. I say that as that’s exactly what it was, a video, with games listed off with a little bit of info from the disembodied voice. This approach is somewhat impersonal compared to the friendly faces that brought us the PS4 years ago, with no Shuhei Yoshida or Shawn Layden present to talk through the developments.

Sony delivered the video, featuring announcements of several VR games including Iron Man VR and a Five Nights at Freddy’s VR title. Their focus on VR caught me a little off guard if I’m honest, but it has made me consider whether VR is a worthy investment. I have been intrigued by the prospect for years, and Beat Sabre very nearly tipped me over the edge, but the investment just never seemed worth the money. With games like Blood and Truth coming, something that looks like a real triple A title but only for VR, I might have to rethink that stance.

The showcase ended on a bit of an odd note, with a trailer for Mortal Kombat 11. Sure it looked excellent, but we already knew that and it wasn’t really a wow moment to go out on. What did wow me was the trailer they showed for Days Gone, Sony’s new exclusive.

Days Gone finally makes sense

I have loved just about every PS exclusive i have played on the PS4. The Last of Us, Uncharted 4, Horizon Zero Dawn, Spiderman and God Of War are all absolutely exquisite games. They represent the very best of what games can be. Days Gone is the next up to bat for Sony’s exclusive titles, and until now I have been underwhelmed by everything I have seen. The gameplay has always looked slick, and they world is beautiful. But that is not what makes any of the exclusives work for me.

This newest trailer finally showed us what has been missing from any gameplay demo we have seen so far. It showed us a story, and it showed us characters that we can get invested in. So far Days Gone has been Starkiller from the Force Unleashed games riding around on a motorbike killing zombies. For the first time in that trailer I saw Deacon, as he interacts with other characters and we get hints at a character behind the familiar face of actor Sam Witwer.

It’s still not top of my anticipated list, and I am not expecting it to challenge Horizon or God of War for the top of the Sony exclusive library, but I am actually now excited to play the game. The promise of an engaging story does more for me than any gameplay video could, as that is what I like most in video games.

Aside from those sweet sweet Apex W’s though. Obviously.

 

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This Week In Gaming – 15.03.2019

This week Halo Infinite might be a live service, Borderlands 3 is teased and uh… might be a live service, and there’s loose rumours about Sony buying Take Two so i go into why that would be such a big deal. All that along with the usual waffle This Week In Gaming. 

What I’ve Been Playing

This week, for some unknown reason, I loaded up Ghost Recon Wildlands. Wildlands was a game I was absolutely hooked on back when it came out. The sense of achievement when you take out an entire base without them ever knowing me and my team-mate were there is incredibly satisfying (I played almost the entire game with one mate online, and it was glorious wasn’t it Conor).

I logged in just to have some fun blowing things up, but then I saw “Ghost Mode”. Ghost Mode turns up the stakes, meaning if your character dies, that’s it, that character is dead. It hasn’t happened yet because me and Conor are gods on Wildlands, but that fear of permadeath is real as we have both experienced in moments. The upped realism continues when it comes to reloading and losing the bullets in your clip and other little tweaks that give the game a new sense of tension. I am looking forward to going back through and systematically wiping out the entire cartel again using my old man with a grey mohawk, smoking a cigar and tattooed up.

I am toying with the idea of diving into The Division 2 this weekend, something I wasn’t going to do before I got my hands on Anthem. Anthem has disappointed me because it never got its hooks in me with the end game, and I am now stuck between getting stuck into The Division 2 or going back to the sweet embrace of Destiny 2. The Season Of The Drifter is now live on Destiny 2, and I am starting to feel that itch to go back and shoot up the world with my Warlock.

Halo Infinite – Live Service? 

I am a relatively bias free gamer, I prefer PS4’s interface and the exclusives are much more my style, but I spend more time playing games on Xbox and I prefer the Xbox Controller now. One area I have never had a touchstone is any of the Xbox Exclusive Games. I’ve dabbled in Forza, but prefer Gran Turismo. Then it comes down to Gears of War, a game I have never tried and probably should, and Xbox’s ace up its sleeve, Halo. The issue is I have never enjoyed any of the mainline Halo games, and I don’t enjoy the multiplayer.

I only enjoyed one Halo games campaign, Halo Reach, which is being added to the Master Chief Collection soon meaning I might reinstall that, but I tried Halo 5, I have played all of the other games in the series for a spell, and never have I been hooked. The reason for me used to be the shields, meaning multiplayer felt stiff and frustrating for someone used to the fast, quick killing style of Call of Duty. What I have realised as I’ve matured as a gamer is that I don’t like Halo because I don’t like Master Chief. He’s a bland, uncharismatic character from what I have seen. A man with no equal, and unlike his oddly similar leading man in Doom Guy, the Halo games are supposed to be a sprawling, epic narrative.

All of that is irrelevant to the story, which is that Halo Infinite is apparently a kind of reboot for the series, and rumours suggest it will be a Live service, in the same vein as Anthem, The Division, Destiny and very other shooter being released lately. This news means I am a lot more likely to be picking up the Xbox exclusive, because I will have my own character in the world of Halo. I have no idea if this is something people are hungry for, but I imagine a weak story/single player experience will lead to a lot of complaints from fans of the franchise. I for one hope the game does something different to entice me into the series.

Borderlands 3 confirmed? 

This week Borderlands developers Gearbox put up a tweet with a picture that sent fans mad. The pic (linked to this post so you’ve seen it hopefully) shows a highway sign, with March 28th, Boston, MA written on it. That is incidentally the date of the convention PAX East.

The distinctive Borderlands aesthetic is present, and the exit is marked as “3”. That is all it took to send the internet mad and the hype levels for Borderlands 3 into overdrive. This is one hype train that I am fully on board with. Borderlands was a good game, and I had fun with the time I spent on it, but Borderlands 2 is arguably the game we owe the current trend of Looter Shooter games to. It had an unbelievable amount of guns, all dropped randomly throughout the game, and distinct, entertaining characters we all loved. It also had that X factor of an incredible Antagonist we love to hate, Handsome Jack.

Borderlands 3 has to deal with monumentally high expectations, and I for one am really intrigued how they are going to approach it. Given the success of Looter Shooters like Destiny, does Gearbox learn from the games that it inspired and produce an always online, live service experience. Of course Borderlands 2 was Coop, and it encouraged you to play with friends as it made the game even more enjoyable. Whether they stick to their tried and tested Coop roots or depart into the Live Service realm is going to be a huge talking point when the game is unveiled in just 2 short weeks. Keep your eyes on This Week in Gaming for all the news come March 29th!

Sony bidding for Take Two?

I have to preface this one with the fact that this could all be an absolute non story. However if, and its a big if, but IF the rumour happens to be true, and Sony buy Take Two… Oh bugger it, as I was writing this Sony have confirmed that none of this is true. Still, I have committed to this, so here is what the rumour COULD’VE meant for the PlayStation brand.

Take Two, if you didn’t know, is the company that owns 2K games, along with other IP’s and one other studio. That other studio is none other than Grand Theft Auto creators and gaming icons Rockstar Games. I am a believer in there is no smoke without fire, and I can’t help but feel with Microsoft’s recent moves towards ensuring they are in the driving seat next generation, Sony may have been looking to make a real statement as to why you need to be on the PlayStation side of things.

The rumours death could be down to a straight up refusal by Take Two, and therefore both sides just quash the rumours by denying everything. What would have been noticed though is the sharp increase in their share prices when the rumour came out, making the idea of a take over increasingly enticing for the Take Two shareholders. The story was almost missed due to the havoc on the stock market because of my home country having a government that has done an absolutely shite botch job of Brexit, but somebody clocked onto it and sent the some fans dreaming.

With Take Two under their thumb, Sony could boast exclusivity of the biggest selling entertainment franchise in the world. Forget Disney owning Marvel, They would own GTA. a game that grossed over a billion dollars in a single day when it first released, and has continued to chart in the top-selling games every month since its launch in September 2013. They could have the games appearing exclusively on PlayStation, but they could also opt to make movies, tv shows, anything out of Rockstars properties. 2K could produce their own range of PlayStation exclusive sports titles, and god knows what else.

The chances of it happening now are next to nil, but for a hot minute there the Games Industry was about to be in shock. That’s why I follow this stuff so closely, all this speculation is half of the fun.

Til Next Week!

ChAzJS on Xbox & PS4