E3 Impressions – Monday, Forward

OK, so as promised, I’m back to talk about Monday’s conferences at E3 2017. But be warned, I wasn’t thrilled with what I saw.

I didn’t bother with the PC conference. Every year there’s pretty much nothing I’m interested in. At all. And based on what I was reading last night, I didn’t really miss anything.

A little later there was the Ubisoft conference. For a little while, I really thought they were trying to change. This company has been in danger of being run by Vivendi for some time now, and in my opinion, it’s not a matter of ‘if’ it happens, but a matter of ‘when’… and yet, they’re still going against the grain, churning out stuff their fans have been growing frustrated with for some time now.

Alright, so at first glance, Mario & Rabbids looks gorgeous and definitely had the potential to be a fun title. Unfortunately, it’s this strategy game where you’re essentially playing chess on a battlefield. I can’t see this game selling that well, unless it’s by people who own a Switch that are desperate for new games.

Next up was Assassin’s Creed: Origins. They didn’t show any gameplay here, just cinematics of the setting. I LOVE the setting by the way, and it’s made this installment in the franchise a must own for me, but let’s just get this out of the way, since it’s prevalent over Ubi’s entire show: Gamers don’t want cinematic trailers. They want gameplay. Stop this nonsense. We want real looks at these games.

The Crew 2: The sequel literally nobody had asked for. Ever. The original was basically a driving game that somehow managed to wedge Ubi’s usual mechanics into it (climbing towers to see more of the map, that kind of thing)… and the game wasn’t very well received. That didn’t stop Ubi from making a sequel though. Why this game exists, I’ll never know.

South Park The Fractured But-Whole is something I’ve been really excited to play. I was skeptical of The Stick of Truth when it came out, but I’m glad I purchased it, because it was an amazing little RPG. The only thing that concerns me is that they’re revealing a release date in October, when I thought it had been delayed beyond that. Oh, they showed off a South Park mobile game too.  Ubisoft, keep your mobile trash out of my E3.

They had a trailer for a VR game that really didn’t let us know what we were in for. They had Elijah Wood and others basically explaining the concept and… well, that was it. I wish I had these minutes of my life back.

Skull and Bones… well, let’s just call this what it is: Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag’s naval combat system copy and pasted, but with a single player aspect stripped out, and online only. They had the nerve to say this is what people have been wanting. No, you dumb idiots, people have wanted an actual pirate game, not a multiplayer naval battle title that had very little effort behind it. I mean, the NERVE to just steal the same mechanics from Black Flag and then show it off as a new game. By the way, a lot of the games that are being mentioned by Ubisoft have this ‘always online’ component to it, which means they’re not letting go of that idea… and probably never will. Gamers complain about this constantly, and yet they wonder why some of their sales have been dipping? I love Assassin’s Creed and all, but everything this company does basically says, “Our ears our shut and/or we don’t care.” It’s since been said that the game may actually have a single player campaign, but I’d wager it’s lazily tacked on, such as it was with For Honor.

Just Dance 2018’s reveal was… well, lame. There was some weird dance routine live on-stage, which gamers don’t care about. They want to see games, not theatrics. And then, to endorse the game, they bring out a pretty music ‘star’… and by ‘star’, I mean that nobody has ever heard of this girl before. Why even bother?

Starlink: Yeah, let me strap a toy to my controller and go to town playing games with it. Pass.

Steep: Oh boy, Olympics gaming. Pass.

Far Cry 5: I loved Far Cry 3, Far Cry 4 was also good but just more of the same, and this one… I don’t really care for what I’m seeing. Bringing it to such a typical location instead of somewhere exotic sort of defeats the ‘escape’ that made the others so great to begin with.

Beyond Good and Evil 2: It’s cool when sequels to games from generations ago come along, but what the hell did we just see? This is supposed to look enticing? Insta-pass.

What a waste of a conference.

Sony, on the other hand, was much better… although still a disappointment. When you open your show with a couple of DLC releases, you know there might be a problem…

Apparently, Knack 2 wasn’t cool enough to be shown off during their actual conference. A trailer was shown before, and the game is out in just a few months. Way to back your game, Sony. Don’t wonder why this one doesn’t sell well… it’s because you aren’t backing your horse in the race. Too bad, because I’ll get it day 1 because I loved the first.

Anyway, yeah, that DLC was Uncharted: The Lost Legacy and Horizon Zero Dawn: The Frozen Wilds. Uncharted looks pretty darn good but it’ll be a turn-off if it’s as cinematic heavy as Uncharted 4. Horizon… I haven’t played enough of the base game to really comment on this and how I feel about this DLC.

Days Gone is interesting. It looks to have top notch production, it could perhaps have a great story, and the acting is certainly great. That said, I didn’t really care for the gameplay I saw. It was like The Last of Us and Uncharted had a baby, and while those are both great games, that makes Days Gone just look way too iterative. I can pass on this.

Monster Hunter World: Never played a Monster Hunter game before, but this looked cool.

Shadow of the Colossus remake: I never played the original, though I always wanted to. Now is my time. I’ll be getting this immediately.

Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite: Ha. Hahaha. AHHHHHH HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! This. Looks. Terrible.

Call of Duty WW2: See, when I think Call of Duty, this is the kind of game I want. I’ll be playing this one for sure.

A bunch of PSVR games: Snore. The most hilarious reveal was what basically amounted to Final Fantasy XV, the ‘fishing’ edition. I could have peed my pants from laughter.

God of War: The approach to this game looks great. I like the older Kratos that’s basically living with his past, and somehow has to straddle the line between becoming that bad guy once again to destroy all these enemies, or refrain a bit as to teach his son not to follow in his old footsteps. And as usual for God of War, looks like we’ve got some pretty epic stuff in store. Day 1.

Detroit: Love the concept but it’s not a game I have any interest in playing.

Destiny 2: Sure looks to be a far cry from the original Destiny. But I was burned so bad by the first one that I’m not really interested in this. Maybe my mind changes after I see a significant amount of gameplay on Twitch, but I somehow doubt it.

Spider-Man: Insomniac is a great team, and everyone expected this Spidey game to be AMAZING… and while the production value is certainly there, all we saw was a bunch of cinematics that were interrupted frequently by quick time events. Pretty much lost my interest for this one last night.

Nintendo had their usual ‘online only’ presentation, and it lasted roughly 25 minutes. I actually liked most of what they had shown.

First was Xenoblade Chronicles 2. It look like it’s a lot of fun, but something about the presentation doesn’t really seem as nice as what we previously had in the Wii game. The character designs leave a bit to be desired as well, and while that may sound petty, I think it’s a really important issue when a franchise like this demands so much of your time.

Kirby is also coming to the Switch, and you know what? Forget all the haters. I really, really, really like those platform Kirby games. My only issue with what I’m seeing is that I saw literally nothing which distinguishes it from OTHER Kirby titles.

Nintendo don’t seem to have too much coming out, first party wise at least, in the next year or so. They have some major titles, some being system sellers for sure, but they’re lacking on upcoming games… so they revealed a couple of big things that fans have been dying for.

First, a proper Pokemon RPG for the Switch. FINALLY a Pokemon RPG for a home console. I’m not big on Pokemon myself, but this will excite a lot of people.

There’s also Metroid Prime 4 is super early development, and later this year we’ll be seeing a nice remake of Metroid II for the 3DS.

Yoshi’s coming to the Switch as well… and I love Yoshi games, I do. But this one seems like it really may be a little too plain, and for a much younger audience than Yoshi titles are typically for. We’ll have to see as we get closer to launch, though.

They also showed off a bit of the Zelda DLC coming but, that’s the last thing on my mind. With my schedule, I doubt I’ll be able to even finish the core game.

Rocket League is going to be a nice addition for Nintendo fans. It’s coming to the Switch, and while I won’t be buying it for this platform (I own it on PS4 and PC), anyone who doesn’t already own this game should jump on it.

Super Mario Odyssey just looks absolutely amazing. I can’t wait to get my hands on this one.

So, overall, I think Nintendo did alright but their showing was rather anemic. We had a good 5 minutes of DLC, and some reveals which we didn’t even catch a glimpse of production art for. For a 25 minute presentation, it leaves a bit to be desired.

So, now that all my E3 impressions are up, I’m going to go back into hiding for a bit. This was just too big a week to let slip by without talking about the most important gaming event of the year.

E3 – First Weekend Impressions

The first days of E3 were rather bland, at least for me. To be fair though, I’m rather jaded at this point. A lot of the games I’m seeing being announced and released are mostly iterative of each other, minus the smaller, indepdendent games. Sure, there’s an exception here and there, and I mostly find that exception to be ‘Nintendo’, who has shown with Zelda: Breath of the Wild, that they can still deliver fantastic games. 

This year alone, Nintendo will be churning out Splatoon 2 and Mario Odyssey… this, in addition to Skyrim (which I’m likely not going to purchase since the updgraded PC version was so good), and some notable other titles. I’m good on the Nintendo Switch. It’s already provided some of the most fun I’ve had in years, between Zelda and Mario Kart.

 EA provided me with a little interest. Battlefront II is a game I’m most definitely going to get on day 1. The last game is what I’ve probably spent the most time on over the last year and a half. I can still pick it up and have a total blast playing it, so that’s a no-brainer. Anthem looks alright, but I have to see more before I even begin to get excited for it. A Way Out has an interesting premise, but I’m not sure I’m sold on the idea of a co-op prison break game… I prefer single player experiences most of the time. Need For Speed Payback needs to be a bajillion percent stellar in order to make me interested, as that franchise hasn’t really delivered in a while. Don’t care much about Madden, but it’s been a few years since I picked one up, so this might be the year. The other sports games I couldn’t care less about.

 Microsoft focused on games above all else, and I’m glad they finally figured that out. Unfortunately, most of the titles they had shown weren’t exclusives, and the titles that were, had only been ‘launch exclusive’ titles, meaning they’ll be available elsewhere shortly thereafter. Why is Microsoft spending so much money on fake exclusivity deals? They really need to invest in some other exclusives, otherwise people are going to look elsewhere, as they have been throughout this entire generation. The $500 price point for the Xbox One X is also a facepalm sort of moment. 500 smackaroos is largely what pushed people away from the Xbox One and firmly onboard the PS4… yet, here they are again releasing another machine at a similar price point. At least it’s a powerful machine this time around, but still, it seems like too little, too late. What does interest me, are the Minecraft announcements, Cuphead, Ori, and Life Is Strange: Before the Storm. What looks decent but hasn’t sold me is The Last Night, Black Desert, Code Vein, and Ashen. Sea of Thieves actually now holds my interest. The footage of that game is the first I’ve seen that actually lets me know what the potential of this game is, and it looks like a ton of fun. Still, I’m not sure how long I could get lost in that game before growing bored of it. I didn’t really care about what I saw in the Crackdown 3 trailer. Shadow of War seems… alright? I’m not really that interested in playing it at the moment. I’m also wicked down for Assassin’s Creed: Origins, because that Egypt setting looks like an amazing playground to stomp around in, and I’ve always been a sucker for this franchise anyway. All in all, their conference was decent on its own, but in the grand scheme of things, announcing a $500 console and a bunch of ‘not really exclusive’ titles isn’t really that smart. Oh, and original Xbox support? That’s pretty cool, and I may actually pick up a couple of games to play as a result, but I’m not sure it’s going to entice TOO many people. Oh, and that cutesy 3D platforming game they showed off? I love games with a retro vibe, but what worries me about that game is that it doesn’t appear to have anything in the way of difficulty. Too bad.

 Bethesda was pretty much a borefest. Doom and Fallout 4 in VR, big whoop. The Creation Club is going to bring paid mods to Bethesda games, and that’s lame since mods on the PC are pretty much always free. I never got into Dishonored, nor The Evil Within. Quake: Champions doesn’t really thrill me much, either. However, Bethesda did announce the one game I’m most excited for thus far, at least between the Saturday and Sunday reveals: Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus. It’s going to be amazing.

 And that’s pretty much it. After all is said and done, the only games I really REALLY want are Assassin’s Creed, Life is Strange, and Wolfenstein II. I don’t expect many others to come down the pike during announcements on Monday, which saddens me.

 Hopefully this E3 treats the rest of you well, but at this point, I kind of don’t care. I’ve spent most of this year going back and forth between Battlefront, Counter-Strike: Source, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, Zelda, Mario Kart, and Minecraft. I really don’t need much more than that.

I’ll be back after Monday’s conferences. 

Greatness Delayed Podcast 030 – 2017 Has Been Nuts So Far

ByteSizePodLogoBlack

Mike and Gus discuss everything 2017!  Resident Evil 7, Yakuza 0, Ni-Oh, For Honor, Berserk and the Band of the Hawk, Horizon: Zero Dawn, and of course the Nintendo Switch and Zelda: Breath of the Wild!

Download – Right Click, Save As

First Look at Nioh

Been waiting a while for this game.  Waited to see some reviews and see some actual word of mouth before buying this one today since, well, you know… emulating the Souls formula to a certain extent has to be a difficult thing to accomplish.  Based on what I’ve played thus far, Nioh definitely takes a lot from the Souls formula but changes things up enough to stand on its own.  The opening hour and a half that I played was quite strong, and I can’t wait to get to the rest.

Enjoy!

Nintendo Switch Early Impressions

nintendoswitch_hardware-0-0

Gus and I have already registered our opinions of the Switch on our podcast, but it’s time to break things down in print.

Now, obviously, Nintendo needed to reveal the Switch in a way that didn’t echo the unveiling of the Wii-U.  I mean, let’s be honest… they didn’t do anything to help that console.  They didn’t convey what it was, nor did they market the damn thing.  But the Switch reveal was quite different.  After all was said and done, we had a great understanding of what the console is, why it has the potential to benefit everyone, and most important of all, how it’s actually supposed to work.  It was the necessary ‘un-Nintendo like move’ they so desperately needed, but unfortunately, the company left their stink all over the rest of their presentation.

At least they started strong.  Right out of the gate, they told us what the Switch’s price point was and what its release date would be.  Everyone was surprised to learn the console would be out on March 3rd, sooner than expected – media outlets a plenty had reported March 17th – but the price point, $299.99, was a little confusing.  Without any context, I think $300 is reasonable, but that’s not the problem.  The problem is that Nintendo probably aren’t selling the Switch at a loss, and they really should be.

You see, Nintendo like to pretend they’re not competing with Sony and Microsoft, but that’s poppycock.  If you’re a gamer that has yet to enter this generation, and someone gives you $300 to spend on a new machine, you’re probably not buying a Switch.  As of right now, Target’s website offers the Uncharted 4 PS4 bundle and the Battlefield 1 Xbox One S bundle for only $299.  All of a sudden, the Switch’s ‘reasonable’ price point doesn’t seem so reasonable, especially since it doesn’t even come with a game.  So yes, Nintendo, you ARE competing with Sony and Microsoft.  To pretend otherwise is… well, pretty much what I expect out of you, you daft, clueless bastards.  And let’s not forget, this holiday, the Switch will also be going head-to-head with the Xbox Scorpio.

So, there’s two things Nintendo should have done for the Switch, and keep in mind these are minimal moves.

First, they really should have included a pack-in game.  2 + 1 Switch seems to be a simple a tech demo; a smattering of mini-games which show off the system’s distance measuring IR sensor as well as the HD rumble feature.  If this title was included with the Switch, people would have something fun to play with their friends right out of the box… which would have been a brilliant strategy if Nintendo had employed it.  People would have been compelled to call their friends over to try 2 +1 Switch on the hybrid machine.  This would have put the console in people’s hands in optimal settings, possibly causing these people to want a Switch of their own… but that’s a future not set to pass.  Instead, Nintendo are charging $50 for their slate of demo experiences… and NOBODY is going to buy it.  No, instead, everyone is going to buy Zelda and play the shit out of it for months… alone.  Now, if anyone wants to get hands on with the Switch, they’ll probably have to try it at a Gamestop, which is probably the LEAST optimal setting I can think of.

OR…

Nintendo could have reduced the Switch’s price to $249.99.  Would that put them at a loss per unit sold?  Maybe, but consoles are often sold at a loss.  Hardware distributors understand that selling at a loss usually leads to a faster growing install base.  One day, their console will be easier and cheaper to produce, and that’s when they’ll be able to turn a healthy profit.  In the meantime, they’ll make a little off software sales and accessories… or in Nintendo’s case, severely overpriced accessories.  Cover the ears on your wallet, because this rundown is going to make it cry:

A Pro controller is $70.  An additional dock – which is basically just a plastic case with HDMI passthrough – costs $80.  A single Joycon controller – that’s just one SIDE – is $50… or, you can get a ‘discount’ if you buy two for $80.  The Joycon straps are $8 a pop.  The controller cradle for the Joycons – that is, a hunk of plastic with a tiny USB charge port – is $30.

Worst of all, Nintendo have finally joined the multiplayer paywall club.  And that… that’s just terrible.  But damn it, if you want to play Splatoon or Mario Kart 8 Deluxe online, they’ve got you by the cajones, don’t they?  Now to be fair, I think everyone expected Nintendo would burrow down this rabbit hole one day… ‘because’, but that doesn’t make it any less of a disappointment.  I mean, this was the only consumer friendly thing Nintendo had left… yet they just cast it into the wind like they couldn’t give less of a shit.  And for those of you thinking there’s some other way they can justify their ‘service’, think again.  They’re going to give you either an NES or SNES rom each month, and some of the latter will have multiplayer enabled.

“A rom?  A bloody ROM?!”, you might ask.

Oh yes, a rom.

That’s what their ‘free game’ offerings will be… and at the end of each month, they’ll take them back… unless you want to buy them, of course.  Know what that means?  Nintendo doesn’t give a squatting shit how many times you’ve purchased games through their Virtual Consoles; they STILL want you to buy them again.  The only positive thing I can say about this, at least for the time being, is that we have no idea how much Nintendo are planning to charge for their ‘service’.  If they were smart, they’d make it way less than what Sony and Microsoft are charging… but nah.  Still, the price of this thing is a big question, and they left it hanging in the air.

There were other questions they neglected to answer too, such as, “What’s the launch line-up going to be?”  It wasn’t until the next day we had confirmation of five titles… and boy, did a lot of people express concern about that.  I’ve lived through numerous console launches that had been worse, so I’m not going to complain.  Besides, can you think of a better launch title than Zelda: Breath of the Wild?

“But it’s going to be on the Wii-U!”

So?  Nintendo have only sold between 13 and 14 million units, so for the many that never bought a Wii-U, they won’t care about Zelda being cross-platform.  The people who own a Wii-U won’t care either… you know, since they’re still getting the game.

Despite everything I’ve just shared, I know this may be hard to believe, but, Nintendo know EXACTLY what they’re doing.  We may not like their approach, but every decision they’ve made has been steeped in money.

While casual consumers may look at this thing now and say, “There’s not enough that interests me,” Nintendo doesn’t care.  They know there’s enough demand from fans to keep this thing selling throughout the entirety of 2017, and why?  Because Zelda, Mario Kart, Splatoon and Super Mario Odyssey.  You can argue nobody will care about a port (Mario Kart 8), nor a sequel that hasn’t differentiated itself enough from the original (Splatoon 2), but again, they have a large ‘didn’t previously own a Wii-U’ market to tap into as well.

But will the Switch sell as well as Nintendo and certain analysts believe?

Well, Nintendo apparently plan to have 10 million of these things produced by the end of 2017.  Considering where the Wii-U is sitting, that’s an ambitious goal.  However, there’s a lot of positivity buzzing around what this console can do, so I do expect this thing to outpace its predecessor every step of way.  Certain analysts have guessed that after all is said and done, the Switch will have sold 40 million units.

To that, I say, “Not so fast.”  I don’t think it’s impossible, but Nintendo need to stop being so wishy-washy.

What’s with all the ‘we’re going to continue to support the 3DS’ bullcrap?  They come up with the brilliant idea to market a console that’s suitable for home AND on-the-go usage, and they want to keep its primary competitor on the shelf?  I get that third parties love this machine because there’s 60 million units out there, but not putting the kibosh on the Nintendo 3DS in early 2017 is a mistake, and Nintendo will have to rectify that by this time next year if they hope to bring over the portable crowd.

And this ties directly into that whole ‘third party support’ thing.

Most Nintendo fans will say, “Nobody buys Nintendo hardware to play anything but Nintendo software!”  But a 3DS fan has to be pretty short-sighted to actually believe such baloney.  That system wouldn’t have moved 60 million units if not for third party support.  If you believe otherwise, think of all the people that would recommend Monster Hunter, Ace Attorney, Dragon Quest, Etrian Odyssey, Shin Megami Tensei, Bravely Default, and so-on and so-forth.  Beyond that, history shows there simply hasn’t been a successful console without a fair amount of third party support.

Thankfully, Nintendo has told us they’d like all third party games to appear on the Switch, but they shouldn’t hold their breath.  They’ll continue to see remasters of popular games, but that’s about it.  However, as long as the Switch keeps its momentum at retail, it shouldn’t be hard for Nintendo to convince third parties already on board with the 3DS to switch to… well, you know.  But again, Nintendo can’t wait years for this transition to happen.  It needs to be a year, tops, and then they have to commit to the Switch 100%.  No ifs, ands or buts.

I’ve let Nintendo have it pretty good in this article, but it’s so you, the consumer, will be aware of what the current value of the system is for the average consumer (not great), how the first year and beyond is likely to pan out (better than the Wii-U… slow at first, perhaps hot afterwards), and what things Nintendo could have done if they were truly ‘in it to win it’.  That said, I think the Switch is a pretty remarkable piece of hardware, and we could see a healthy balance of first party Nintendo games, as well as third party titles once those publishers are convinced to make their 3DS games for the Switch as well, or perhaps even exclusively, leaving the old portable behind.

Of course, success really is in the hands of Nintendo at this point.  They need to deliver on games.  No more of this ‘Metroid Space Ball Horseshit’.  Nintendo always say they listen to their fans, and now is the time for them to deliver.

First Time Out: Resident Evil VII

I had absolutely zero interest in playing this game.  A first person Resident Evil?  Pfft.  Get out of here.  To me, it just seemed like Capcom, who don’t really seem to know how to perform these days, were just trying to cash in on the P.T. demo craze.

Well, as I usually do after a game’s launch, I watched someone play the game for about 45 minutes… and to my surprise, it looked quite good.  So, here it is!  My first couple of hours with Resident Evil VII.  Enjoy!