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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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 – 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

 

 

 

 

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.