The Quest Log: September 20, 2017

Hey Huddies! It’s finally time again for another Quest Log update! Starting next week, we should be returning to our regular schedule of (at least) two posts per week. In the meantime, take a look at what’s been happing over the last seven days:

Bethesda’s bringing DOOM and Wolfenstein 2 to Switch

In a surprising announcement during last week’s Nintendo Direct, we learned that Bethesda was bringing both 2016’s DOOM and the upcoming Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus to Nintendo’s Switch. Pete Hines later confirmed that DOOM was, in fact, the previously unannounced 2017 release he hinted at several weeks ago. Wolfenstein 2 will launch in 2018 sometime after the Xbox One, PS4, and PC version.

Xbox’s Phil Spencer promoted to executive vice president of gaming

Xbox boss Phil Spencer will now report directly to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella as one of the newest executives with the company, Business Insider reports. “The change follows,” they explain, “a reorganization Nadella ordered in July … to streamline the company’s operations to focus more on selling specific customer solutions,'” including video games.

http://www.businessinsider.com/microsoft-xbox-phil-spencer-gets-promoted-to-executive-vice-president-2017-9

 

Divinity: Orignal Sin 2  sells nearly 500k copies in four days

GamerHUD readers might be sick of hearing about me gush about Larian Studios’ Divinity: Original Sin 2, but now that it’s actually out, I can safely say that it’s one my favorite games of the year. And yes, I realize that we’ve also played Breath of the Wild, Nier: Automata, and Horizon: Zero Dawn this year. D:OS 2 is really that good.

Fortunately, I’m not the only one excited about the excellent cRPG. Divinity: Original Sin 2 sold nearly half a million copies in just four days, a feat PCGamesN says, “the first Divinity [Original Sin] game didn’t hit … until at least a couple months after release.” The game’s multiplayer servers have struggled a bit to keep up with the unexpected player, too, as it peaked on Steam with nearly 86k consecutive players.

Yeah, guys: it’s good. And if you have a PC, why aren’t you playing it yet.

https://www.pcgamesn.com/divinity-original-sin-2/divinity-original-sin-2-steam-launch-record-breaking

Real Backwards Compatibility on PS4?

During the E3 2015 showcase, Microsoft dropped a surprising announcement that many consider the highlight of the conference: Backwards Compatibility. In the year since then, Xbox has added more than 200 Xbox 360 games to the available catalog, and continues to iterate on almost a weekly basis. From classics such as Mass Effect to the recent addition of Red Dead Redemption, this feature has added a lot of value to the Xbox Ecosystem by allowing players the ability to play games they already own for fee. However, since the introduction its introduction, more often I have heard players inquire whether or not Sony is looking at a similar feature on their platform. While this would most certainly be a “win” for the PlayStation community, there are roadblocks that make the probability off this addition highly unlikely. 

Back in 2013, during what is still considered one of the most notorious E3 showcases, Sony described the integration of Gaikai with the PS4 platform and how the  technology would be utilized. Through applications such as “Remote Play” on Sony mobile devices and the Vita, then PlayStation Now with cloud based gaming in the console space, it seemed like the service was an obvious “slam dunk” for the PlayStation community. When purchased for $380 million dollars, Sony was placing a large bet on Gaikai to handle the aspect of backwards compatibility for PS4 with a subscription based service that boasts a library over 400 games. The only problem with this, is that if you don’t have internet speed that is consistently “good”, then this service cannot do much for you. 

While there are different PlayStation Classics that you are able to purchase through the PS Store, there is no emulator on the hardware that allows you to play these games if you already physically own them. So the question stands: does Sony cut out the legs from underneath PlayStation Now and offer a similar feature as the Xbox One, or do they stick to their guns and try to make their money back through the income generated off of the PS Now Subscription model?

Thus far in the console life cycle of the PS4, Sony has done nearly everything “right” in terms of messaging, product, and overall image to the gaming community- which is a quantum leap when compared to the rocky start of the PS3. Many hold on to the belief that Sony will eventually offer some type of solution that meets in the middle, holding on to the fact that Sony continues to impress. The issue that I see is that PlayStation is still a business, and Sony needs to be able to justify that $380 million dollar check it shelled out for the technology- it can’t simply push it aside for public image/service alone. Basically, Sony is stuck between a rock and a hard place.

Regardless of how you want to spin it, this is an issue that we need to address for the sake of keeping the history of these games alive. Too many times I think of a game that I would love to play, however because of hardware constraints I am unable to play it (PC players I envy you for this). Whether publishers embrace the feature of full backwards compatibility or double down on the subscription style model, classic games are getting lost in the void and this needs to change. Now the questions comes to you, the reader. How would you solve this? Do you abandon Gaikai and push forward on efforts to bring an emulator to the console? Or is this not even an issue that justifies the capital lost? Let me know in the comments below.   

Will Sea of Thieves dry out like Evolve did?

     It was shortly after watching the gameplay reveal during Microsofts showcase during E32016, that I really started to worry about the longevity of the upcoming title Sea of Thieves. Now let me preface that I am actually looking forward to playing the action-adventure pirate game sometime when it launches next year in 2017. I know that it will be an instant hit for me and my group of Xbox Live companions, trying to boast the baddest ship in the seven seas. As a matter of fact, we are already having arguments of who is going to be the “Music-guy” wielding musical instruments to give the rest of us a haunting sea melody as we look for buried treasure. This is the Rare developed game that I have been looking forward to playing since it’s glory days of Banjo-Kazooie, the kind of game that refuses to allow the player to stop smiling. But as quickly as my hype began to build- I immediately found myself wondering if the online community will give this the attention that it never gave other multiplayer games, such as Evolve?

     While the optimist in me wants to believe that a games fun-natured gameplay can transcend the normalities that you find wrong with a lot of multiplayer based games nowadays, the cold hard fact is that in order for this game to stay relevant months after the release of the game is entirely dependent on the players themselves, and their ability to pick up a microphone and communicate. In all areas of the game, this game demands collaboration amongst you and your team, the cheesy gameplay demo of people screaming at each other was more realistic than you probably think. From helping man the Crows Nest to watch for upcoming rocks, islands, and of course other ships- to informing the crew of holes in the side of your ship from enemy fodder, you must communicate with your team if you want your team to succeed. This is the reason that I compare this game to Evolve, many similarities follow the two in terms of player contribution demand, and we all know how that turned out for Evolve

     Now before you think I’m picking on Evolve, I enjoyed my time with that game but due to the issues that I am concerned about for Sea of Thieves, it was short lived. And from the way the community died out after a while, I know many out there had a similar experience. I feel like that could be a whole different topic in itself: is it wise for game developers to place so much trust in the community, that you the future of your title lives and dies by the online community? While there are definitely success stories for that, one right now is Overwatch; however with titles like Titanfall experiencing a similar fate, and Fable Legends was a key factor in a studios closing… It’s got to make you wonder if the reward is worth the risk. 

     I am looking forward to playing Rare’s upcoming title regardless of what the outcome may be a month or two later, but for the sake of the studio I hope that they find a crowd pleaser. The last thing that I wan’t to see is a world without developers willing to take risks in creativity to give us products like Sea of Thieves. You have to admit, although Call of Duty Battlefield are awesome annualized fall blockbusters, games would get boring pretty fast without your occasional cult classic or wild idea game. You need the Mirror’s Edge and Sea of Thieves to break the mold. Personally, I hope to find you all out on the seas, soaking up the sun, and enjoying the crew mates around you when Sea of Thieves hits shelves next year.

E32016: Who Won the Conference Battle this Year?

Wow… what an incredible few days for the gaming industry. Between every showcase, conference, game announcement, bad joke made, and awesome kimono wearing game developer on stage, it is needless to say that E32016 will be one to remember. That goes for all consoles, developers, and publishers involved: from us at The Gamer HUD, we say well done on another exceptional year.

Now down to business. Let me begin by saying, that this is solely my opinion and those that write for The Gamer HUD could have differing opinions. In other words, direct the hatred directly at me *Wink*. Since I think most can say that the argument will come down to either Microsoft or Sony, let’s address the others. To note: I have bolded each conference if you waned to skip sections.

EA kicked off the entire thing Sunday, with a one hour presentation showing us what CEO Andrew Wilson prefaced as “a quick glimpse into what we have in development”, truer words have never been spoken. In their 60 minutes, they managed to cover all known titles in development such as Battlefield1 and Madden NFL 2017. But the thing that made me a little frustrated with the conference, as I am sure it did to many of you reading this as well, they glossed over Mass Effect: Andromeda. Yes they showed someone drawing concept art of characters with small glimpses into the universe, with a short trailer at the end, but I can’t wrap my head around why they wouldn’t start the whole thing with a 5 minute gameplay demo; or something of that nature. Anything more on that front would have been welcomed. Instead they kept it high level and gave us a solid 10 minute “Making Of” look at Fifa 17 powered by the beloved Frostbite engine… Needless to say, there was some sadness in that conference for me.

Grade: C+

Bethesda had a solid conference, even though a good amount of it had been leaked before the show. Still managing to surprise and impress, they showed revivals like Prey, the highly anticipated Dishonored 2, and even managed to throw in an easter egg or two with the Wolfenstein: New Colossus imageI am glad that Bethesda decided to keep their conference this year at E3, even though many thought that it would be unlikely. But announcements such as Skyrim Remasters and Quake Champions, made for a solid showing. Well done Bethesda

Grade: B+

Ubisoft… if there is one thing that you cannot say about this conference, is that it was too short. Clocking in at almost 2 hours long, I can’t possibly imagine how anxious the audience was to get the hell out of there by the time Aisha Tyler closed out the show with some closing thoughts. On that note, we saw plenty. From promising games such as Ghost Recon Wildlands, to the highly anticipated South Park: Fractured But Whole, they had more than enough to keep us entertained. In a way I felt like Ubisoft suffered the exact opposite of what EA did, way too much content over a long (seriously, can’t hit this one home hard enough) period of time. If Ubisoft had packed that down into 1 hour, with no on stage interviews, dance performances, developer personalities, VR Exercises, and movie documentaries (did I mention that this conference was long?), this could have been an excellent show. They had all the right games there, just went overboard with it. Next year, just trim the fat and you will be set.

Grade: B-

Nintendo held their (now) annual Treehouse Live Event, headlining Zelda: Breath of the Wild. With the exception of a 45 minute Pokemon: Sun & Moon demo, Zelda was the only game that Nintendo felt the need to show off. Trust me, if you have been living under a rock for the last 48 hour hours, they made the right choice. Extensive play throughs from the beginning of the game, closer looks at the new game mechanics, a new beautiful world to explore (seriously, stop reading this and go watch a video of this- it’s that damn good), and the reveal of Voice Acting for the first time in the franchise, made for a solid showing. Although we didn’t receive any info on the upcoming Nintendo NX, this was expected since they had prefaced that the console would be revealed and detailed in a separate event. All around, Nintendo handled the situation well. They doubled down on Zelda and man did it payoff… Several Game of the Show awards will be going to that one. 

Grade: A-

Microsoft had once again, another phenomenal show. Ever since Phil Spencer took over the Xbox division, the companies dedication to serving the “Player” with games and community desired console features, never fails to amaze me. Coming out swinging for the fences with the announcement of the XboxOneS model, then immediately following up with games like Gears of War 4 taking the stage for a live gameplay demo, it was clear in just the first 15 minutes of the conference that Microsoft was not messing around. Announcements like Xbox Music Playlist feature, customizable controllers, and Looking For Group made it clear that they had been listening to player and community feedback. In the game lineup area, revealing Dead Rising 4, showing us more of Sea of Thieves, and giving us the reveal date for Inside (June 29th), Microsoft gave us 90 minutes of entertainment. You would be hard pressed to not see at least 3 announcements that make you excited for the future of this platform. And of course, ending the conference with the long rumored Project Scorpio announcement, would help make sure that everyone would be buzzing about next years official reveal. Although they didn’t go too far into detail of the console specs, they gave us a solid 2 minute video reiterating that the current iteration would not be replaced by this one and would actually boast to be the most powerful gaming console on the market. That is a huge promise to make, but one that I know that this Phil Spencer lead Xbox can fulfill. 

Grade: A

Sony… What a conference. To say that this conference was great, would be underselling it. Instead of leading the whole Horse and Pony Show out on stage and gave us buzz phrases like “Greatness Awaits” and all that jazz, they decided to let their games do the talking. And that made all the difference. With a short introduction from Shawn Layden and tribute the victims over the past weekend, we were greeted with a live orchestra and the reveal of God of War. A game that has been rumored for a while now, they walked us through a 10 minute gameplay demo of a different style of Kratos, leading many in the auditorium to applause. What followed was several more exclusive titles to the PlayStation Platform. Titles like The Last Guardian and its release date, a full gameplay demo of Horizon: Zero Dawn, a choice filled trailer for Detroit: Become Human, and Sony Bend’s Days Gone reveal. Nor did it stop there, Resident Evil VII, Spiderman from Insomniac, a Crash Bandicoot Remaster announcement, and of course walking Hideo Kojima on stage to show off the teaser trailer for the Sony exclusive Death Stranding. Yep, Sony delivered one punch after another, with no signs of slowing. Instead of overstaying their welcome (at this point in the show, I don’t think a single person would have minded another hour worth of content at this rate), they finished off with a final look at the gameplay for Days Gone, and filled that The Last of Us 2 post apocalyptic void in our hearts. PlayStation 4 has sold over 40 mill units to date, and Sony just gave a whole lot more people reason(s) to invest in the system. Well Done.

Grade: A+

Conclusion… You still with me? Good. Like I said before, this was a summary of my thoughts and opinions on the conference. Now before anyone goes calling me a fan boy of this or that, let me challenge you to keep one thing in mind. Every show gave us something to be excited for. Every single one. With the competition between industry giants like Xbox & Sony being as heated as it is right now- WE are the ones that win. So tonight as I boot up any one of my consoles, whether it be the Xbox One, the PS4, or have to wipe piles of dust off of my WiiU (Sorry, I had to), I will be smiling with anticipation for the things to come.