Gaming

A collection of 125 posts

Alan Wake is the focus of Control's AWE expansion

Alan Wake is the focus of Control's AWE expansion

Andy Chalk for PC Gamer:

The decidedly strange events that took place in Alan Wake—in which a famed author traveled to Bright Falls, lost his wife, encountered some shadow monsters, hung out with a weird Viking heavy metal band, and got sucked into another dimension—were actually part of an Altered World Event in Control.

FCB agents investigated the incident and brought materials back to Control headquarters for study, but then it all went sideways somehow and the entire Investigation Sector had to be sealed off. In the AWE expansion, new Control director Jesse Faden will try to reopen it, which will presumably lead to the encounter with Alan Wake.

While it's certainly been assumed since Remedy unveiled the Control roadmap, it's amazing to finally have confirmation of the tie-in between the two games.

While playing Control, I couldn't help but think the door with the spiral on it, which appears in the motel you visit during several intermission-like sequences, had something to do with Wake's eventual return. Presumably, the others are tied to other titles in Remedy's catalog, like Quantum Break (which makes several references to Alan Wake), and games that don't even exist yet.

Xbox Game Pass, xCloud, and the future of gaming at Microsoft

Tom Warren for The Verge:

Microsoft wants to build the Netflix for video games, and early indications show that its bet is already starting to pay off with 10 million subscribers. Some developers are also reporting increases in game sales and more players, and Microsoft has some big plans ahead with xCloud for Game Pass — particularly around the ability to instantly play games or demos.‌‌‌‌

[...]‌‌‌‌

We now know Microsoft’s plans for Xbox Series X and Xbox Game Pass content over the next couple of years, but there’s more needed to demonstrate why “the world’s most powerful console” matters.

Looking back at last week's Xbox event and even the one before that, it seems like everything was done out of order. If anything, there should have been an entire event devoted to Game Pass and xCloud, letting people see how it works and all the stuff you get with it. After that, a hardware reveal that shows people what they can get to have the best Game Pass experience. One high-end device for a premium experience, and one with a cheaper price tag for everyone else.

Instead, Microsoft keeps talking about the Xbox Series X like it's going toe-to-toe with the PS5 which, it many ways, it isn't. This is confusing and seems like it'll be a quick way to waste a ton of money producing and marketing a device that people don't understand the potential importance of to Microsoft's larger vision.

Xbox Game Pass and xCloud are the future of gaming at Microsoft. I just wish they were better able to communicate that to the world instead of muddying it up with typical console-vs-console mumbo jumbo.

The Xbox is still confusing

Xbox Series X
Xbox Series X

Andy Robinson for VGC:

Responding to the confusion on Twitter, Xbox marketing boss Aaron Greenberg claimed that all first-party games are being developed for Xbox Series X “first” and that it is up to studios to decide if they also release for Xbox One.

[...]

In a frank discussion with GamesIndustry.biz this month, Spencer went even further by stating that he believed generational exclusives were “completely counter to what gaming is about.”

Much surrounding the new Xbox is still very confusing to me. From the name and possible variations in hardware, to the exclusivity of games, to how the xCloud service fits into all this, etc. It seems like either something is getting lost in translation during these events and interviews, or one arm isn't talking to the other.

Sony has set clear expectations for the PS5. Here is the hardware. Here are the games. They're not reinventing the wheel but it's easy to wrap your head around it all. I understand what I need to get up and running. With the Xbox, it feels overly complicated and could end up costing them users if they don't nail down the pitch.

As for yesterday's event, S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2, As Dusk Falls, and State of Decay 3 all caught my eye but I'll be playing them on PC, likely via Xbox Game Pass.

Deadly Premonition 2 sounds broken, bizarre, and... amazing?

Francis York Morgan enjoying some damn fine coffee
Francis York Morgan enjoying some damn fine coffee

Dave Tach for Polygon:

So I wrap up the first big section of Deadly Premonition 2 the other day, and a few hours later, I boot up the PS4 to get back into The Last of Us Part 2. Within a couple of minutes, two things happen. I keep looking up instead of down, and down instead of up, because I’ve played so damn much Deadly Premonition 2 that I’m now confused about my preferred inverted effing y-axis. Also, I kind of think I’d rather be playing Deadly Premonition 2: A Blessing in Disguise.

When the original Deadly Premonition came out years ago, I didn't "get it". It was weird, and felt like it was constantly hitting the punchline of a joke without any sort of lead up. It just didn't make sense to me, despite all the praise that seemed to be coming in for it.

Years later, having played the game myself, and enjoyed Twin Peaks in all its insane, amazing glory, I can really appreciate whatever the Deadly Premonition series is. In fact, I rebought the game on the Switch and plan on getting back through it again soon.

This is all to say that I got my copy of Deadly Premonition 2 as well this past weekend and can't wait to get started playing once I wrap my playthrough of Xenoblade Chronicles. I love the idea of people playing DP2 instead of other, higher profile games available right now. 😈

Moguri Mod breathes new life into Final Fantasy IX

Moguri Mod breathes new life into Final Fantasy IX

Final Fantasy IX turns 20 years old today and still stands for me as the best entry in the series. The scale of the game, the fascinating characters and their backstories, the music... it all adds up to an experience I'm not sure Square Enix will, at least for me, ever be able to top.

While the game holds up relatively well after all these years, it isn't without its visual and technical issues. This is where Moguri Mod comes in:

Moguri Mod is a faithful revamp of the PC version of Final Fantasy IX helped by deep learning techniques (ESRGAN). The most important changes are in the background arts, that are now cleaner, more detailed and higher resolution.

The mod looks very impressive. Here are a few of the features:

  • HD backgrounds (aided by AI and polished by hand)
  • Manual redraw of all 11k layer edges and area names
  • Features from Memoria Mod (16:9 widescreen, original font, analog support...)
  • HD textures (worldmap, NPC, battles...)
  • Many bugfixes

The team have put an immense amount of time and effort into Moguri. Since the project is fair use, there isn't any way to support the team financially but — as the team mentions — sharing the project is highly encouraged and helps everyone involved get the recognition they deserve.

I haven't played Final Fantasy IX in a long time but I'm going to install Moguri Mod and give the game another spin. It'll be nice to return to Gaia after all these years away.

Demon's Souls is coming to PlayStation 5

Demon's Souls is coming to PlayStation 5

Michael McWhertor for Polygon:

Demon’s Souls is getting a next-gen remake. FromSoftware’s original Souls game, originally released on PlayStation 3 in 2009, is coming to PlayStation 5, Sony Interactive Entertainment announced today.

It pains me to say that I will be getting Demon’s Souls on PS5.

Sony's PlayStation 5 event

Sony's PlayStation 5 hardware lineup

I was impressed with the Sony event today, in particular Capcom's Pragmata, Insomniac's Spider-Man sequel, and the Demon Souls remake to name a few.

The hardware looks good, though I think I prefer the look of Microsoft's upcoming Xbox Series X. That said, I'm impressed with the risk and bold departure from the previous style of consoles Sony shown here. I'm excited there will be two versions — one with a disc drive and one without — available for customers at launch. I'd had some rough experiences trying to go completely digital early in the PS4's life but, as time has gone on, it's been much better. In fact, the last three games I've bought have been delivered digitally without issue.

Another minor detail in the event I enjoyed was the transitions between the different trailers themed around the iconic PlayStation buttons. These elements, in addition to the white, blue, and black colour scheme sprinkled in everywhere (including on the console itself), show how firm of a grasp Sony has on the PlayStation brand/marketing this time around.

Based on what we've seen from both Microsoft and Sony, there's no question I'll be investing in the PlayStation 5 before the Xbox Series X (or whatever they end up calling it?). The presentation today had it all for me: great games from established franchises that I love, new IPs to get excited about, and a commitment to great experiences with cutting-edge hardware. Take my money.

EA adds 25 titles to Steam

EA adds 25 titles to Steam

Ryan Gilliam for Polygon:

As of this writing, players can purchase and play BioWare’s Dragon Age games, the Crysis games, several Need for Speed games, some indie games like Unravel, Plants vs Zombies: Battle for Neighborville, and more.

Put Mass Effect 3 and Andromeda on Steam, you cowards.

Sony announces PS5 reveal event for June 4th

Sony:

This digital showcase will run for a bit more than an hour and, for the first time, we will all be together virtually experiencing the excitement together. A lack of physical events has given us an amazing opportunity to think differently and bring you on this journey with us, and hopefully, closer than ever before. This is part of our series of PS5 updates and, rest assured, after next week’s showcase, we will still have much to share with you.

I love the look of the DualSense controller Sony showed off in April and I’m hopeful the console itself will have a similar look and feel. I’d love for it to have a reduced form factor than the original PS4 and Xbox One units, though I understand that’s a tall order considering the power and size of the internals.

In terms of importance, while I’m interested in the final look of the hardware, it’ll ultimately be the games that will drive my decision in purchasing the console. I’ve been happy playing PC for the past year and without any big exclusives or features, I don’t know how eager I’ll be to run out and grab a new system.

On a sidenote, speaking of games, it’s an interesting dance they’re doing with the release of current generation games in the next few months and a new console by year’s end, clearly why they’re pushing for remaining PS4 releases to be compatible with the upcoming PS5.

Honestly, I have mixed feelings about this whole next generation of consoles. On one hand, I’m excited to see what the PlayStation 5 and Xbox (or Series X… I guess?) bring to the table but I’m convinced this will be the last generation of consoles as we know them. With the surge of companies trying to make game streaming work, including Sony and Microsoft, it seems like a matter of time until one of them gets it right and, at that point, hardware like the PS5 and Xbox Series X won’t matter.

For newcomers, Persona 5 Royal is the definitive way to play the game

Laura Dale for Polygon:

If you’ve never played Persona 5, and the idea of a lengthy JRPG about making friends, making evil adults admit their crimes, and fighting monsters sounds cool, this is the definitive way to experience the game.

While I owned Persona 5 at launch, I wasn’t able to get into it, despite starting and stopping three or four times. I enjoyed what I played but something — usually the first time the team visits Momentos — didn’t hook me.

Because of the FES and Golden updates to the two previous Persona games, Royal seemed inevitable. Maybe, subconsciously, that’s why I never gave Persona 5 the time and effort it deserved.

Now, having played about 40~ hours of Royal, I’m glad it took me this long to play. Even with the limited experience I have with the original game, this is clearly the version to play and I’m having an absolute blast with it so far. It’s not perfect, I still have camera issues every now and then for example, but Persona 5 Royal has a level of depth, style, and fun that only comes around once or twice per console generation.

Note that the linked review does include some spoilers. If you’ve never played Persona 5 and are thinking about giving it a shot, proceed with caution.

Final Fantasy VII Remake redefines the concept

Cloud, Tifa, and Barret from Final Fantasy VII Remake

Bradly Shankar for MobileSyrup:

Even when it was eventually confirmed to be in development, Final Fantasy VII Remake appeared to be woefully mismanaged, with key members of the original development team initially working with a lesser-known external studio.

What followed was two-and-a-half years of silence between first gameplay trailer and subsequent re-reveal, which certainly didn’t quell any fears.

A solid review, and one that echos many of my own thoughts about the game, like the revised ending. The one we got in the Remake felt like the team capitalizing on a unique opportunity to weave together the various stories told in the years since the original (Crisis Core, Advent Children, etc). All things considered, I think they did a great job.

One thing I found interesting about the development of FFVIIR was how similar it seemed to Sony and Insomniac’s Spider-Man game from 2018.

The game was announced, gameplay was revealed, and things went quiet until close to release. While most people — myself included — assumed the worst, the end product spoke for itself in both cases and were resounding critical and commercial successes.

Post-game thoughts on Final Fantasy VII Remake

Post-game thoughts on Final Fantasy VII Remake

I took the time to finish up the game yesterday and was really happy with it overall. Without spoiling anything, the ending wasn’t quite what I expected, having played the original many times, but I understand the reason(s) for the changes.

Visually, the game was stunning, particularly the pre-rendered scenes. In terms of scale, Midgar felt huge. Looking up at the plates from the slums, or climbing topside, it was pretty surreal. The soundtrack was perfect and the combat, once I got a handle on it, was smooth and incredibly satisfying.

I’m hopeful it won’t be long before we at least hear about the second chapter, maybe even get some visuals to tide us over. With the engine already built and (presumably) most of the story done, it can be that far off, can it?