Content Burnout & Terrestrial Channels

There is a lot of content out there right now that I intend to consume at some point. Despite that, I could only muster the effort to go and see Joker. Besides that, and sports, I have only really watched The Office over the past 7 days. Oh, and like 2 thirds of Star Wars A New Hope. I am at the point where the ships go to shoot up the death star. Besides that, I just haven’t had the attention span to pick up something new. 

I have already seen the office in its entirety once, and watched odd episodes countless times, so watching through it again isn’t giving me anything new, it’s just allowing me to switch off and enjoy some silly jokes and the incredible man that is Michael Scott. I assume this is something other people sometimes struggle with, the urge to play games or watch shows & movies just goes and you just want to tune out for a bit instead.

I have a list of old films to see, to try and fill in the gaps in my movie knowledge, and there are countless shows I would like to experience. I haven’t even listened to many podcasts aside from some football-based ones which is only happening because I enjoy laughing at Tottenham so much. I think it’s very important to do that by the way. Laugh at Tottenham. Their fans have been smug for a few years and at this point their most successful period in history brought them a third-place finish and a loss in a final.

Ha.

Football aside, it feels like I am suffering from what I would call content burnout. That urge to watch something new just isn’t there, so I have gone back to something I already know so I can just have it on while my brain is thinking deeply about sweet sweet fuck all. Well since Sunday it’s been thinking about Joker but that’s just the nature of that film.

In other news, Rick and Morty Season 4 has been confirmed for November and I am going to have to sort out channel 4 for the first time since I moved out nearly 3 years ago. I have lived without any terrestrial television now for a few years and the only thing I miss is Match of the Day. Netflix, Amazon Prime and Now TV provide me with so much content, which combine with YouTube and Video Games mean there is always another thing to watch or play. I am assuming that I can download an App for Channel 4, hopefully it works better than the ITV app.

The ITV smart tv app is one of the most frustrating things I have ever used. The channel is called ITV. TV is literally in their name and yet, they do not have the function to watch their channel live within their app on smart TV’s. I even reached out to ITV about it, and by reached out I mean sent them a shitty email, and they responded with “Unfortunately our TV application doesn’t allow you to watch normal TV”. It was the final nail in the coffin, and I streamed the England game another way.

I am not sure how I got to this, but what I am trying to say is Fuck ITV. In fact, all the terrestrial channels, except the BBC, are more than welcome to do the same. Actually no, fuck the BBC. I just remember they moonlighted as a paedophile shelter for a bit & not even Match of the Day and Killing Eve can redeem something that ridiculously horrific.

So yeah today’s post started out about me feeling burnt out on content and ended with me say Fuck the BBC and all its friends. Maybe I should try and get more sleep.

‘Til tomorrow.

ChAzJS

 

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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 – 22.02.19

This week I go over what games I’ve been playing in the last 7 days, speculate a little on what Google could be unveiling at their GDC panel, and look ahead to this week’s big release, EA’s Anthem. 

What I’ve been playing

Last week Shadow of the Tomb Raider was brought onto Xbox Game Pass, Microsoft’s stupidly good value for money subscription service. I thoroughly enjoyed the previous two games since the franchise reboot in 2013. I didn’t get round to Shadow when it released for one reason or another, but once I had to give it a go once it came to Game Pass.

Square Enix have largely stuck to the formula they have used in the previous 2 games, and not added a great deal I’ve found. A little disappointingly for me, the game feels similar to my time with Tomb Raider and Rise of the Tomb Raider, but has so far not hooked me into the story. The first two games had shades of Uncharted about them, with the hunt for some ancient treasure being the motivation behind some great character work. This time round the same motivations are there, and we do dive into Lara Croft’s childhood, but its missing that intangible element that just makes you want to keep going back and pushing onto the next part of the story.

I think the lack of a supporting cast we are invested in takes its toll on this third instalment. By the third game in the Uncharted series, we are just as invested in Sully and Elena as we was in Nathan Drake. Lara Croft is the only character I could name from any of these games, I couldn’t even come up with the name of her friend in this game that I have been playing this very week.

One potential reason I grew tired of Tomb Raider, is because I knew I was just a few button presses away from the addictive brilliance of Apex Legends. Neither Fortnite or PUBG ever held my attention quite like Apex is right now, and if I wasn’t writing this, I would be playing it. I went in-depth on a little more in last weeks post, but it’s honestly one of the most well made, excellently balanced games I have played in years. The battle pass comes soon, and with it hopefully a slew of challenges and objectives to mix gameplay up a bit.

Google is coming

This week Google announced that they are going to be unveiling something, no clues on exactly what, at a press event to be held at the Game Developers Conference in March. After the apparent success they had with allowing people to stream Assassins Creed Odyssey through Google Chrome, all signs point to some kind of digital streaming gaming platform.

Google have been expanding into new markets in recent years, with their Phones and tablets emerging as viable options in both markets. They have a very trusted brand, and if they can beat Microsoft and Sony to the punch on a reliable games streaming platform with no latency issues we could be seeing a new contender emerge. Nintendo will always Nintendo, so I don’t see this affecting them very much, but I am sure the big 2 console owners will be watching carefully come March 19th.

I for one hope they release some form of hardware. I don’t believe it will be a box like the current generation consoles, but more likely similar to their Chromecast devices, which can just be plugged into a TV. The device itself will be just a proxy through which users can connect to Google’s cloud processing servers, allowing for HD to 4K quality, high fidelity games to run via the cloud straight onto people’s TV’s.

Such a device could revolutionise how accessible games are, and I can see new TV’s, or even an App for smart TV’s being launched which would allow everyone access to the world of video games with a much lower cost to entry. The elimination of a chunky piece of hardware not only saves space in people’s living rooms, but also reduces the production cost per unit sold for the tech giant. Any news on a release date for the platform is scarce, but all will be revealed in a few short weeks.

Anthem out of tune at launch?

I have been looking forward to BioWare’s Anthem since I first laid eyes on the game a couple of E3’s ago. I love Destiny, and I am a huge fan of Iron Man, so the two being smashed together and being given a story crafted by the creators of the Mass Effect series is a match made in heaven for me. It’s currently installing on my Xbox as we speak and once this is written I will be diving into the game (I prefer PS4, but my mates play Xbox, what can you do).

The game has been “out” for about a week now, although the exact launch day is a little messy. If you have an EA Origin account on PC at a certain level of membership, you could download and play Anthem, the full game, from February 15th. I have EA Access on console, meaning I had 10 hours of gameplay for free, available from the same date. I didn’t take up that offer because of two reasons. For one thing, I knew I had a busy week, and wouldn’t be able to get a decent session in until friday anyway. Secondly, being a platform in a similar vein to destiny, I knew the launch would be a little rocky.

That thinking has been proved right judging by all of the discussion around Anthem this week. Game bugs, crashes and excruciatingly long load screens have all been cited as regular occurrences for players in this opening week. BioWare and EA have announced a Day one patch to deal with these issues, but even the developers themselves aren’t sure exactly when the game released as the patch was dropped on thursday.

I know a lot of people now lose interest in a game if it is broken on release, and i completely understand and sympathise with that logic. With Anthem though, I am willing to give it a bit of time to correct these issues. At launch, Destiny 1 and 2 were fraught with similar bugs and issues. The same is also true for Ubisoft’s own version of these shooter looter games, The Division. What we saw with all of those games, and what I hope we see with Anthem, is continuous support and updates from the developers to make the game the best version of itself that it can be. Destiny 1 and 2 are both excellent games, and I have spent far too many hours on the Destiny 2 grind, and the gameplay and loot cycle have kept me hooked. If Anthem can get into a similar place, we are looking good.

What does worry me, is the comparisons some are making with Bethesda’s “How to botch a guaranteed success” game, Fallout 76. That game released with a load of bugs and glitches, and without the community mod support that Fallout 4 received, no sign of them all being cleared up. Just this week Bethesda banned a player who had committed over 900 hours to the game because apparently he had collected too much ammo for the game and he was kicked off the servers permanently. If Anthem goes the way of Fallout 76, it will be the biggest disappointment in gaming of the decade for me.

I will find out this weekend, and my review in progress (which means I will update it and give a final verdict when I’m finished with the main story) with Anthem will be up on Monday morning at 8am, so check back for my in-depth thoughts on the shooter then.

Thanks for reading!

ChAzJS on XBL and PSN

My Most Anticipated Games of 2019

Gaming is fantastic. If you’re not into it, get into it. There is a game for you, whether it’s a 2D platformer in the vain of the old Super Mario and Castlevania, or a sprawling open world like The Witcher 3. It’s the biggest entertainment industry in the world, and here are my most anticipated games coming in 2019. 

Anthem – 22nd February 

BioWare have made some of the most popular games of the last 20 years, from Star Wars The Old Republic to Mass Effect. Anthem is their newest idea, looking like a mixture of Iron Man suits and Destiny, which sounds great to someone who has sunk a lot of hours into Bungie’s shooter in the last 12 months.

Mass Effect Andromeda was widely considered to be a rare miss for BioWare, even though I personally thought it was a decent game. Decent doesn’t cut it nowadays though, and Anthem needs to really hit for both BioWare and publisher EA to get them back in the fans’ good books.

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice – 22nd March

From Software develop games I never play, but something about the trailer for their newest effort got me interested. It looked stunning for a start, and the combat looked unique. It’s very early days at this point in terms of what I know about the game, but hopefully we see something special from the developer.

I haven’t got into Bloodborne or the Souls games, as their live die repeat gameplay doesn’t appeal to me, but I am hoping this game is a departure from that hook, and they go for something new like Guerilla Games did a couple of years ago with Horizon Zero Dawn.

The Outer Worlds – 2019

With no confirmed release date, I am hoping this manages to stick to 2019. Coming on the heels of the failure that was Fallout 76, and in the void created by no Borderlands 3 announcement, the creators of the Fallout franchise Obsidian are bringing their new IP, which looks to combine the lessons learnt from Fallout with the fun and whimsy of the Borderlands franchise.

This is possibly my most anticipated game of the year, as at the moment it’s the only single player game I am 100% in for. Days Gone and Sekiro both look decent, but at this point there isn’t enough to get me to commit to buying them. In one excellent trailer, The Outer Worlds convinced me to buy with a lot of confidence this is going to be a very fun game to play.

The Last of Us: Part 2 – 2019 (Hopefully)

Naughty Dog are the kings of single player gaming experiences. Crash Bandicoot was the PS1 mascot, Uncharted was the premier single player adventure game, and until last year, The Last Of Us was considered the Jewel in PlayStation’s library. God of War showed us things can still improve, and in one swoop Sony Santa Monica’s God and Son story laid the challenge down to Naughty Dog.

The Last of Us: Part 2 may not make the cut for 2019, but I sincerely hope it does, as Naughty Dog have shown time and time again they can exceed the lofty expectations fans have for their games. We know very little about the game, but it’s bound to be another evolution on the last few Naughty Dog games, with Uncharted and The Last of Us’ gameplay influencing each other in the last few games.

There are bound to be a lot of games this year that surprise us, as God of War did last year, so hopefully we get something similar again from something like Days Gone. Thanks for reading, please share on Facebook and Twitter if you liked this!

ChAzJS