The Friday Inbox laments the death of the Need For Speed franchise, as one reader wonders whatever happened to Borderlands 3.
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Dead on arrival
An excellent X019 event by Microsoft (even with all the cheesy yelling and stage shy developers) that managed to hint at all the stuff they have underway with out revealing any of the big gun… except when it came to Xbox Game Pass. They basically destroyed Google Stadia last night, with all the games coming to Xbox Game Pass and the working on Project xCloud as well. As we can see from their launch line-up, Google clearly don’t have any way to counter that and they never will because they don’t seem to make their own games.
Microsoft might not have been able to talk about Project Scarlett but they did use the time to completely demolish the would-be competition and while I don’t really have a horse in the race (I have both PlayStation 4 and Xbox One and don’t really like to pit them against each other) it was a definite KO for me. And I liked it because it wasn’t a matter of who’s stream was faster/more reliable it was all about content, i.e. games.
Even Microsoft with its weak first party line-up (getting better, obviously) easily trounced Google, so the question now must be if Sony, with much better first party games, can do the same to Microsoft. I don’t see why not, but their lack of announcement in that area leaves a big question mark as to what they’re up to and whether they realise that a delivering a serious blow at the beginning, like Microsoft has to Google, can end the competition almost before it’s begun.
Too many pokémon
I’m always one to advocate gameplay over graphics but I have to agree that the way Pokémon is being handled at the moment is disappointing. Like GC said in their review, on 3DS these things were state-of-the-art, maybe not from a literal technical perspective but they always seemed to push the system in terms of what it could do and the range of options. The new one seems to have the same or less options and doesn’t push anything.
I think an addition problem, that nobody’s mentioned yet, is how often Game Freak are pushing these games out. Actually mainline sequels may only be every three or four years but they’ve managed to have some kind of spin-off or special edition almost every year recently, and some of theme, like Pokémon: Let’s Go have been pretty big projects.
If they’re a relatively small team then that must be having a negative effect on what they can get done and their general mental health and ability to come up with new things. Maybe another leaf they should take out of GTA’s book is to just have one game that is constantly updated and lasts a very long time?
I’m an American reader and I just wanted to respond to Clannok’s letter in regards to game reviews in the UK and US. I feel some of the differences in review score can be traced back to how Americans view scores in general.
See, in the American school system we grade as such: 0-64 = fail, 65-69 = pass, 70-79 = fair (C), 80-89 = good (B), 90-100 = great (A), this can lead us to be a bit biased when assigning scores to other things. I understand the ranges for A-Ds are much more forgiving in the UK so maybe this explains some of disconnect in review scores in general?
GC: That’s very interesting. We have no idea how grading was calculated at school, so that’s not a connection we would have ever made. Review scores, at least in our eyes, aren’t a question of pass or fail either.
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I’m sure I’m not the only one that literally had no idea that a Need For Speed had come out. Even now I almost don’t believe it considering the only place I’ve ever heard it mentioned is review sites, most complaining that it was sent to them late. I can understand EA doing that if it was terrible but apparently it was quite good?!
Some publishers really need a wake up call with how they try to manipulate players and websites because all this is getting out of control. And now apparently Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order won’t get many reviews this week because Lucasfilm are worried about plot spoilers?
Yeah, right. Worried it might get bad reviews from sites that haven’t signed off to do the opposite. As soon as I find out about these sort of things going on it makes me much less likely to buy the games than even a slightly negative review would. Presumably Star Wars will be okay because it’s Star Wars (but I bet it’s not that big a hit) but that attitude has already killed Need For Speed and I wonder what will be next.
To good to miss
I hate to buy in to this Black Friday nonsense but thought this one was too good to ignore. Currys PC World are currently giving away a copy of Pokémon Sword or Shield for free when buying a new Switch.
What’s more it is the new SKU with the significantly longer battery life. You’re welcome!
Battle Breakers is free on Epic Games Store on PC and you can also download the DLC free for The Messenger game that I wrote in about yesterday. Also, for the five-year anniversary of This War Of Mine there is a free update on PC for Steam and GOG that adds remastered levels and more today (Thursday).
There was an update on Epic Games Store today for This War of Mine, so I presume that got the free DLC too as Epic Store gave the main game away a little while ago.
My first Pokémon
Hoping for some advice! I have four and five (almost six) year old sons who are keen on Pokémon, but having never owned a Nintendo console myself I have no idea which would be suitable for him on the 2DS?
Any ideas? Reading ability is very limited right now!
GC: The mainline Pokémon games have a lot of reading, although in that sense many find it’s actually very useful for kids. As an alternative, match-3 puzzler Pokémon Link: Battle! is good, but most of the other spin-offs are pretty awful. The various Pokémon Rumble games are so simplistic they could only possibly appeal to very young children, but even then they’re likely to get bored very quickly.
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I enjoyed reading your Pokémon review mainly because I identify with your frustration about low production values.
You can kind of see how it happened, with Game Freak not being used to HD home console development then – as GC suggested – suddenly finding themselves out of their depth. It’s not really an excuse, though, given they’ve had the opportunity to substantially expand their team and skillset for decades and have just rested on their very profitable laurels all that time.
The worrying question is, with the Switch potentially selling itself more as a portable console, especially in contrast to the imminent far more powerful machines, are we going to start seeing a sort of complacent tendency towards unambitious, undemanding projects that would just about get away with being on handheld devices but don’t really cut it on a TV?
You can see from the likes of Super Mario Odyssey, Mario Kart 8, and Zelda: Breath Of The Wild that some games can work just as well in all the different modes but the likes of Pokémon Sword and Shield suggest this isn’t going to be the case for some big name games. As someone who plays mostly in portable mode, the appeal comes from doing so with home console style games.
I don’t want the Switch to just become a next gen DS. I’d rather have the machine elevate games that were previously only really accepted as handheld titles rather than have such games render the platform as one where home console games are the exception.
So I guess EA didn’t send out review copies to many sites after all? And suspiciously they’re all good except for the British one (Eurogamer). Yeah, I think I’ll wait for GC’s as well…
Until someone mentioned it the other day I’d forgotten Borderlands 3 even came out. For such a big hit that game really seems to have come and gone, or is that just me?
This week’s Hot Topic
The subject for this weekend’s Inbox was suggested by reader NL, who asks what is the best video game sequel you’ve ever played?
As a flipside to last week’s Hot Topic about the worst sequels, what do you feel has been the best? Was is it a major overhaul for the series, a return to its roots, or simply a minor upgrade that nevertheless made it the best there’s ever been?
What sequel has been most effective at reinventing a series or rejuvenating interest in what may have been an ailing franchise? To be clear, anything counts as long as it can be generally counted as an official sequel, follow-up, or reboot.
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