Sony is making something called a “PlayStation 5”

In news that has stunned and surprised absolutely nobody Sony have unveiled the official name and release window for the next game console they will be releasing. PlayStation 5 is scheduled to release “Holiday 2020” which is almost exactly when everyone expected it. I personally feel ready for a new console, but the real questions are does PlayStation 5 have enough to convince me that a stay at home console is worth my investment in a world where game streaming services seem to be right around the corner. 

There is a slew of technical information out about the Sony’s new flagship console. An article on over on Wired goes into detail on the Ray Tracing hardware that has been confirmed and an explanation of why the SSD hard drive is so superior to the current hard drives in games consoles. Less space is needed, and it can be accessed faster, so it’s all good news. To be honest, the power of games consoles is becoming less and less relevant, and the real selling point for any new console will be what it brings that I haven’t seen before or didn’t expect.

Each new generation is more powerful than the last and allows for games to be played at higher resolution and gives developers the horsepower needed to produce games with the size and scope of a Red Dead Redemption 2. What I need to get me excited is something new, something I didn’t see coming. Sony have realised this too it seems, and the most interesting innovations are not coming from what’s in the box under your TV, but from what’s in your hands.

The new controller, which is not officially called the DualShock 5, but we all expect it to be, features a couple of new features that genuinely sound like they will enhance the immersion for a wide variety of games. The new feedback that can be programmed into the triggers and analogue sticks is something completely new for consoles.

First, the triggers. The new controller will allow the developers to adjust how much resistance is felt when the player pulls on the trigger buttons. This seems like a novel idea but imagine how different it’s going to feel when you fire a sniper and the trigger resists a little before clicking as you shoot, and then it flings back into position. Or when you’re playing a driving game, and the break trigger will be harder to push the harder you break just like the real thing. This little kind of innovation has a lot of potential to make games feel a lot more intuitive and immersive which is where the next generation of consoles must start heading. With VR slowly becoming a bigger component, these types of physical feedback controllers will allow for entirely new ways to play games.

With the analogue sticks, it is even harder to visualise how these are going to work. Basically, it seems like they are going to feel different depending on the surface your character is walking through. So, for instance on Assassins Creed Odyssey, running through grass will feel different to sand, with the sand feeling a bit slower and feeling more resistant, and then on ice it will loosen up and slip about with ease. It sounds novel, but I am not sure how it will work.

Of course, I am not sure exactly how both these systems will combine until I have the controller in my hands but that is miles off. For now, I am just very excited that these kinds of innovations are where Sony is focusing their attention for the next generation. Their biggest problem, as I hinted in the intro, is that I am not convinced I will want to have a box under my TV.

Stadia and Xbox both are looking like they will be offering a streaming option for playing games, and for me that works better than any console. The one barrier to entry with all these streaming services is the quality of the internet and how good of a connection you need to be able to play latency free, HD to 4K games on them. If my internet at home is good enough to play games at that level, I am not so sure I will need a dedicated home console.

The ace up Sony’s sleeve of course is their range of first party exclusive titles. If it means missing out on TLOU3, Sequels to Horizon Zero Dawn and God of War, and other possible exclusives like Infamous or Spiderman, than I will not be sticking with just a streaming option.

Regardless of whatever software and hardware combination the next generation of gaming platforms arrive in, it’s the games that are available on them that will define them.

‘Til tomorrow.

ChAzJS

 

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PES v FIFA: The Great Debate

There are some debates that have been going on since pop culture began. Pineapple on pizza McDonalds V BK V KFC. Xbox V PlayStation. Star Wars v Star Trek. Is it Gif or Jif? These debates are rarely settled (Except the pineapple one, get that off my pizza) but there is one that I feel has been settled for a while now. That is the yearly battle between PES and FIFA.

In my formative years, PES what where it was at. Presentation wasn’t as big of an issue when nobody looked right anyway, so in the days of PES5 and PES6 it was the only football game I played. FIFA struggled in the 2000s to get back on top after the heights of FIFA football 2003, and it waned and lost its way. Enter the PS3 generation, and FIFA picked itself up off the mat to fight back and beat down PES, almost to the point of it no longer being a debate.

In recent years, FIFA’s dominance has led to them perhaps focusing on the wrong things. Ultimate Team has been the main mode that development time has gone to, and aside from the story based “Journey” the rest of the game has remained similar for a long time. My personal favourite game mode, Pro Clubs, has been largely unchanged for years. There has been tweaks here and there but nothing to blow anyone’s mind.

I tried PES again in 2018, it was available for free on Xbox or PS4, and I downloaded to give it a try. It was a strange experience. I had pretty much ignored all the innovations over the years and just stuck to FIFA because that’s where my team was. Playing a football game that approached things from a different point of view was a refreshing break, but it did have its problems.

I don’t know lots about game development or programming, but I know enough to kind of understand how things can go wrong and the problems different obstacles can provide. Refereeing in football games is one problem I cannot even begin to understand how it is done. Unfortunately, the people at Konami who are responsible for the referee’s also seem to have very little idea either. 2018 and 2019 both had problems with the ref’s which at times break the games immersive and realistic simulation style. FIFA’S referees are by no means perfect, but they are consistent, and that makes it much less of an issue.

In recent years FIFA has completely redone its defending, and I think it’s the best innovation in football games since they introduced 360 dribbling. Gone are the days of sending your defenders after the ball like target seeking missiles by holding down one button. Defending on FIFA is an art now, and it’s made the game a much more rounded experience. PES feels a few years behind FIFA in this sense. The players still can be launched after the ball, but now they rarely win it. The idea is that you defend more with positioning than by charging at the ball and that is realistic, but only if your entire defence is paying attention.

PES 2019 lost me at around the 100th time my AI centre back just ignored a run and lost his man in the box, making my attempts to keep in shape and press at the right times irrelevant because the oppositions striker has the space to make a cup of tea before he dispatches the ball into the goal beyond my hapless keeper. PES 2019’s keepers are mostly there for show.

I do not have FIFA 20 yet, but I do have PES 2020, or eFootball PES 2020 to give the game its full title. I paid the money downloaded all the option files and updated all the kits, waited 2 days after release for the live update to refresh the players to their correct teams and then I dived in. It is weird. the previous year’s crisp passing feels a bit floaty; the natural movement of the players feels more robotic than I expected. The dribbling feels unnatural and it’s hard to predict what your player is going to do when a player is on their back.

Sometimes your player will shift his body weight to shield the ball, fighting off the player behind whilst maintaining possession and allowing you to control the ball until a pass is available. Other times, the AI player will just strut past you and take the ball with your player bumping off them and then having to go through the animation of him wobbling a couple of steps before you can control him again to win the ball back, by which point they’ve left you for dead.

Then you try to switch players to defend with you next in line, and instead of the defender you expect, you get given the right winger. This means more frustrating half seconds of them bearing down on your hopeless AI defence as you switch frantically between players. When you do get a hold of the right player, you then have to jockey and time the tackle perfectly, taking the ball and leaving the man stumbling over it as you emerge with the ball from what feels like a perfectly executed tackle. Then the ref blows his whistle and awards the opposition a free kick for your perfect, satisfying feeling tackle. There is a great feel to it when you master a tackle, but the fact that several of my best tackles end up in free kicks is so frustrating I nearly launched my controller into space.

What the game does well, is the finishing and the possession play. Passing around the defence and midfield in FIFA feels pointless. The opposition don’t hurry across from side to side to allow you to pull them out of position, and FIFA doesn’t appear to be heading that way. PES rewards you for patient, possession football, knocking it about and moving across the pitch leads to their defence starting to bend and flex until an opening appears and you can attempt the final pass to get a player into a goal scoring opportunity. It’s very satisfying and the best part of PES by far.

In terms of attacking game play, I would give the edge to PES between the two games. The new dribbling mechanic is difficult to use, but when you pull it off its immensely rewarding, as you send a defender for an ice cream and break into the space beyond him. The issue it has is that its main rival doesn’t have the same issues. FIFA is a remarkably consistent game. Each year it makes some tweaks, some gameplay changes, and it takes a period of adjustment. The basics of the game are very solid though, and for me I think PES has some brilliant ideas that feel like they’re standing on flimsy foundations. The defending needs a huge overhaul, while the refereeing will hopefully be fixed by a patch in the coming days or weeks. For now, though, PES is still climbing up the mountain that FIFA is sitting on top of.

ChAzJS

 

 

This Week In Gaming – 01.06.19

Finally This Week in Gaming is back and its new day (Saturday rather than Friday) means I can get ALL of the week’s news to you without missing Friday’s stories. This week was a packed one for three huge games, Activision shooter Call of Duty, Crystal Dynamic’s Avengers game and Metal Gear creator Hideo Kojima’s Death Stranding in more detail than ever before. All the information on those three and the usual waffle below.

What I’ve been playing

I spent most of the past month not really playing any games. The lack of new releases that interest around this time of year left me with nothing driving me to any game, and I ended up playing a bit of Football Manager and the odd game of Apex. That was until me and a few friends decided to dive back into Ghost Recon Wildlands.

Ghost Recon was in the news a few weeks back for the next instalment that was announced for later this year, and that sparked me back into thinking about the countless hours I have spent in the Wildlands world, systematically clearing bases, or at least attempting to before someone drops the ball and we have to fight through it the hard way.

It’s far from a perfect game, but the gameplay is fun with friends, its challenging, and it’s filled a hole in the calendar. With nothing major on the horizon for me I am growing increasingly tempted to dive into the Witcher or God Of War again, with the former never really grabbing me and the latter an absolute masterpiece. Either that or I will just be on football manager screaming at my laptop as my youth team striker misses a chance to put Arsenal top of the league.

Call of Duty comes back to today

Rumours started early in the week that the next instalment in the massively popular Call of Duty franchise was going to be titled “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare”. Not to be confused with “Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare” which is the game we got way back in November 2007. That right, 2007. It has really been that long since that game. To be honest, the name of the game doesn’t really matter, its Call of Duty. It will sell well, but this year the developers have decided to react to the slowly declining sales figures by rebooting the most popular sub-franchise in the CoD stable.

The trailer is intriguing, and seems to show series favourite Captain Price being all Captain Pricey, which I am very happy to see. The trailer did get me interested, and then on Thursday the embargo lifted for E3’s Judges Week, and Kinda Funny’s Greg Miller went through what was shown to the press at the pre-E3 Showcase event. Go and watch the video on YouTube for the full details, but he does go into some spoilers for what was shown that I will leave out here. Greg talked about a change of approach when it comes to the campaign, that right we are getting a full campaign, and he spoke about scenes that sounds like they will be up there with the “No Russian” level from back in the day.

In fact, this new direction is incredibly exciting and it sounds like the touch of some of the Ex-Naughty Dog developers that are working on the game is bearing some tasty looking fruit. The old Call of Duty campaigns were excellent, but over time became a mess and the consistent story told over the first few games eventually meandered into a bland mess.

All of this single player goodness is wonderful, but perhaps the most shocking news is that the game will have no season pass. The developers will be dropping updates for the game for free, with new maps and other gameplay items being added throughout the games life cycle. In an industry that has historically ignored its fans; the recent trend of listening to what people want is really refreshing, led by Epic games and Fortnite. The game releases October 25th, and for the first time in a long time, I am really excited for the next Call of Duty.

Death Stranding: Kojima Unleashed

Hideo Kojima created my favourite gaming franchise. Metal Gear Solid is an unbelievable, crazy, frankly ridiculous world and the stories are almost impossible to comprehend without hours of googling and reading Wikipedia stories. But I have done the hard time, and to me it was an incredible journey that got cut frustratingly short. The Konami/Kojima split was nasty, but Konami’s loss has been Sony’s gain.

They took the madman and let him out of his straight jacket. Death Stranding looks, from the nearly 9 minute long release date trailer, like something only Hideo Kojima could possibly come up with. There are babies in Jars, ghostly apparitions, walking, Ladders that can extend themselves in seconds, more walking, a cool looking bike, and a cast of famous faces that could combine to make one incredible Hollywood blockbuster film. Mads Mikkelsen Norman Reedus and Guillermo Del Toro are the most recognisable faces, and those of you who are big industry fans will know Troy Baker, the man behind a thousand of your favourite video game characters.

I couldn’t begin to tell you what the game is about, or what the gameplay is going to feel like, but I know for sure I am 100% sold on this. I will buy it day one, and let the insane journey commence. It’s with a heavy heart that I say goodbye to Metal Gear Solid, but this new, intriguing world that Kojima has shown us looks like it could be something really incredible. Or it could be a jumbled mess, who knows! It releases on November 8th a lot sooner than I expected.

The Avengers 

There have been rumours about the mysterious “Avengers project” that Square Enix have been working away on for a while now. Well developer Crystal Dynamics (who made the recent Tomb Raider games) have unveiled the official title and a few details about the gameplay have been leaked. The title, rather predictably, is Marvel’s Avengers.

There is no confirmation on gameplay yet, but the leaks suggest a game that is an action adventure game where you can choose an avenger and use them throughout the game and possibly improve their skills. I have seen it described as “Tomb Raider meets Destiny” and that is a really intriguing thought.

I have no idea what to expect really, but a Destiny style live service game where you play as your favourite Avengers is an incredible idea. If they package that in with a kick ass story we could be onto something special. My worry is that due to the wide range of abilities between the Avengers characters, none of them will feel quite as good as they should. Spiderman felt perfect in Marvels Spiderman last year because they spent so much time getting him right, has that same attention to detail and feel gone into every one of the Avengers characters? Will Thor’s hammer feel as good as Kratos’ Axe? Will Iron Man’s suit feel as mobile as Anthem’s Javelins? Will Hawkeye’s Bow be as fun as Aloy’s from Horizon? The truth is nobody will be playing as Hawkeye so that last one doesn’t matter. But the rest does, and if they don’t get it all right it will struggle to maintain a player base for very long at all.

More will be revealed about all 3 of these games at the upcoming E3 show starting 10th June, all the news and my reaction to it will be posted on here over that week, so keep your eyes peeled!

Until next time, thanks for reading.

Chaz

 

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.