Microsoft set up the big tent and finally unveiled the next generation of the Xbox yesterday.
To say reactions were mixed would be an understatement.
I knew going in that their press event wasn't for "us". It was a quick hour-long reveal being broadcast on live television, with all that implies. Microsoft wasn't speaking to the core (ugh I hate that term), they were speaking to a boarder more general audience. I knew that meant we might not see as much detail as we might like. I knew that meant multimedia functions were going to be a bigger part of the event than I really cared about. I figured we might not see a whole ton of games.
I had no idea I'd be so overwhelmingly terribly right.
An hour of sports and trends and internet snark later, the real meat of the Xbox One started to be laid out. But was it already too late?
Good things from the event -
Kinect in the box – Lord knows not everything about the Kinect is great, but I like that it will come with the system this time. Peripherals sold on the side always die. Developers have no reason to develop or innovate for a toy that only a percentage of the install base has. But something that comes packed in with every console is another story. Maybe this time we'll actually see some cool stuff out of the Kinect camp. I'm not a huge fan of jumping around in every game, but I think there has to be untapped potential for cool utilities there.
Mostly, I like what it says about Microsoft learning from past mistakes. If they want to make something essential or vital to the system, they need to bundle it in with every skew. The 360 always felt the sting of that budget launch version that didn't include a hard drive. A lot of games were held back since they could never count on an HD in every console.
Snap mode – When you think about it, Snap mode is actually pretty cool – it was just buried under TV shit during the conference. I'd never use it for the kind of spastic switching between a game, a TV show, a movie, and a Skype call like they demonstrated, but I can see how it might be handy to be able to quickly check something online while playing. Take a quick peak at a guide, check for an important email without dropping out of the game or digging up another device. Handy.
Booting from a rest state – a quick starting silent Xbox? Sign me up. The jet engine I currently own takes almost a minute to churn up. It's a little detail, but it makes the Xbox One seem like some kind of crazy future tech.
Quantum Break – Whaaaaa? I have no idea what Quantum Break is, but my love for Remedy, the studio that brought us Max Payne and Alan Wake, is bone deep. Whatever they're up to, I'll give them the benefit of the doubt.
Puppies! - Call of Duty finally found a way to hook me. If you can customize your dog breed and get a Navy SEAL Eskie pup, Ghosts will be first-day buy for me.
Crappy stuff from the event - [/ltr]
Spoooooorts – Just gotta keep reminding myself that this event wasn't for us. I couldn't possibly give less of a shit about exclusive deals with the NFL or fantasy league garbage. I know intellectually that this is the kind of feature that will sell the Xbox One to the great unwashed football loving masses, that the games I'm interested in will be at E3, but the huge emphasis on sweaty dudes kicking around balls was still a let down for me.
TV, Movies, Trends – It's a topic that has already been beaten to death so I won't labour it, but I'm just not all that interested in the multimedia aspects of the system. The ideas and features aren't terrible and I can see how they would appeal to some people, but it's just not what I'm looking for. The whole "trending" tab thing especially stuck out to me. Have you ever paid attention to what trends on Twitter? I don't really need to know that the latest comedy about a guy in a old-lady fatsuit is making great box office recipes. [/ltr]
Detail light – So when it was all over but the shouting, what did we really learn about the Xbox One? Some much appreciated system specs (although I'd love to hear more), a look at the well ventilated box, a lot of stuff about how much TV we can watch on it, CoD puppies, Remedy being Remedy, and sports. For an hour of content, it was pretty damn light and left a lot to be desired.
- Nice to see the box and some specs, but I would have liked a bit more depth. Some info about Live would have been great.
All the crazy shit after the event -
By far the most interesting info about the Xbox One has been gleamed from interviews and demos that have since taken place after the actual press conference. While the one-hour sportravaganza was a disappointing bore for a lot of gamers, the stuff that we've heard since has been crazy bananas.
I feel like a lot of the hostility and backlash we've seen since the reveal could have been prevented if Microsoft got out in front of it and showed off some of the tech and details that appeal more to gamers. I have to really wonder if a one-hour TV press spot designed to appeal to a largely non-gamer audience was really the best way to present their new game console.
Why didn't they talk about this during the event!? -
Magic Moments and Streaming – The whole time during the event I was like "where is the streaming?" PS4's sharing feature got a mixed response, but it impressed the hell out of me. It seemed obvious that Microsoft would have their own equivalent gun, and the fact that Sony had to go with Ustream instead of the much more popular Twitch had me and a lot of other people assuming Microsoft already had Twitch in their pocket.
Well you know the old saying, when you assume...
While Twitch might still be up in the air, Microsoft has since unveiled their own capture and sharing technology – and it looks great! Very similar to Sony's Share feature, gamers can at any time capture recent game footage from the memory buffer (by shouting "Xbox, capture that" rather than pressing some boring old button) and share it on... Youtube and Xbox Live? Still waiting for that Twitch announcement.
Even more impressive however is the Xbox One's "Magic Moment" feature which will automatically record footage when certain conditions are met. It could record the final hit against an end boss, the moment a particularly impressive achievement pops, or when you go on a particularly good tear in a mulitplayer game.
This is the kind of feature I was hoping to hear about! To me this is way more interesting than being able to Skype and watch a movie at the same time. [/ltr]
- "Xbox! Record all magic moments of cute puppies doing cute things!"
[ltr]Cross-game achievements and challenges – We already heard about the new possible new achievement system a few weeks ago, but now it's confirmed. Microsoft is reworking the entire structure of the achievement system to be more flexible, expansive, and capable of issuing dynamic goals and challenges. Developers will be able to add new achievements after a game's launch and issue random challenges, keeping things fresh and interesting.
Personally, I really enjoyed the weekly challenges in Mass Effect 3's multiplayer or the daily random goals of Injustice. If the Xbox One wants to expand on that concept and even issue gamer points based on it, I'm all for it.
Along with the details on this system, there was confirmation that your current Gamertag and achievement score will migrate to the new system. I didn't think that would be something Microsoft would mess up, but it's nice to hear for sure that they didn't.
Not so great stuff -
Fees on used (and possibly lent) games – I get it. I don't like the glorified pawn shop business that chains like EB and Gamestop run. They get gamers to trade in used titles by the bucket load for a silver of credit then they shave $5-$10 bucks off the price of a new game and sell it again and again, cutting the publishers out of any of the profit. It's a racket that, in my opinion, screws over a lot of gamers who are giving up more then they are getting back and is toxic to the industry. I'm not some toady for EA or any other big publisher, but I'd rather see the money made from games get back to the people actually making them, not some retail chain that leeches off everyone involved. I'm not fundamentally opposed to seeing a new system that moves the money around a bit more equitably.
Strangling the entire idea of the used game market, rentals, and lending games between friends with a steep licensing fee is not my idea of fixing the problem though.[/ltr]
- Go ahead and fuck Gamestop, but don't fuck us in the process.
[ltr]It's early and reports are conflicting all over the place so it's hard to pin down exactly a big an issue this is, but I have to say it put a sour taste in my mouth. With some outlets claiming as much as a $40 fee to activate a used game on an account, Microsoft will have all but killed not only the used market, but any idea of rentals and sharing between friends. Some of this doesn't even affect me personally – I don't buy used games very often and the last time I rented something was years ago – but I know it's a big issue for others.
As far as lending and swapping games, one of the greatest joys I derive from gaming is the ability to share what I love with others. Trucking my copy of Rock Band all over the neighbourhood like some kind of garage band apostle, taking You Don't Know Jack over to the girlfriend's place to introduce her to the sarcastic love of Cookie Masterson, playing Army of 2 the way God intended, drunk as hell with my most fratboy-ish pal. If Xbox One is going to apply some kind of fee that makes those experiences impossible, that is a big blow against the new console.
There are possible solutions. Maybe Microsoft will have their own digital rental system, a sort of temporary download. As long as young gamers can get their fix I'd be alright with that. Some quick damage control has assured us that we can take a game over to a friends and sign in with our own profile to play it there, similar to bringing XBL games to a friends house. That's a start, but what if I wanted to leave the game there? What if I was done with it and wanted to do my brother a solid and save him a few bucks? Will there be anyway to transfer a licence?
Basically there are a lot of unanswered questions that need to be addressed before I feel comfortable with any of this stuff. Hopefully by the time E3 is done we'll have a better idea if this DRM fee scheme is a reasonable way to insure that games remain profitable for publishers without screwing over the consumer, or the herald of a new Orwellian age of digital oppression. Given that Microsoft is already back-peddling on some of these ideas as "potential scenarios" I think it behoves us not to lose our heads just yet, but to make sure they know it would be a bad idea.
No backward comparability (for anything?) - I was shocked to hear that the Xbox One won't support back-compat. I thought this was an area where they would get a real leg up on Sony. The PS4 has to live with the legacy of the goofy and difficult to work with cell-processor of the PS3, but the 360 has always had a much more open and easy to work with PC-like architecture. I would have thought getting 360 games to play nicely with the new box would be a given, but I was wrong.
Even worse though, apparently even downloaded XBLA games might not even work on the new system. That's a big problem to me.
I can live without disk-based back-compat. If I'm being honest I'd have to admit that when I jump to a new console generation, it's pretty rare for me to dip back. My PS2 rapidly collected dust when the 360 hit my home. As a stereotypical gamer, I'm overly fixated on the new and shinny.
But new and shinny wasn't the point of all those digital titles I bought for the 360. Those were timeless. Retro platformers and action games I picked up out of nostalgia. Technologically simplistic but stylish games like Bastion, Castle Crashers, Geometry Wars, and Braid. Classic fighters like SFIII and MvC2 that require an internet connection to be worth playing. I hate the notion that I have to keep my old (and increasingly dodgy) 360 around and plugged into an internet connection, or watch those games plunge into the abyss of progress. It's a huge bungle that I never would have thought Microsoft would make. Hopefully they can find some kind of solution or workaround that doesn't erase the value of my 360's digital library. I know if they don't I'll be more hesitant to make similar XBL purchases in the future.
No mention of Oculus Rift support – Alright, can't blame them for this one. But wouldn't it have been cool?
That press conference eh?
It wasn't what we wanted. A detail-light, mass-market slick, sports filled hour didn't do anything to turn my crank. And some of the news items afterwards – the hostility to the used game (and lending) market, the spectre of an always-online requirement still haunting the Xbox One, the no-go on back-compat – it got easy to be negative fast.
But there were some gems. A slew of new IPs, magic moments, Remedy still treated like a star by Microsoft, puppies. There is promise there. It just got burred under a lot of other features I couldn't care about, or issues that give me pause.
Maybe I didn't give the Xbox One a fair shake. Maybe my expectations were too high. Call it naive, but I expected Microsoft to wow me. After the genuinely impressive showing by Sony and their PS4, I expected my boy Xbox to get in there and trade them punch for punch, to match every feature and then some, to name games that would make Infamous and Killzone blush. We didn't get that. What we got was a press event designed for an entirely different market. A good solid day of actually impressive info couldn't compete with that initial disappointment, even if some of what is getting out there sounds great.
In the end, we'll just have to wait till E3 before passing judgement. I'd like to think the Xbox One is still a contender. I'd love to stick with that eco-system and keep my Gamertag and friends list (and hopefully my XBLA games) but they are going to have to do more to sell me on it.
Due to a slight change late in the day, I'm cappin Sunday's CAPS as well as Monday's. Hey what up, community?!? YEAH! That's what I like to hear! Are you guys ready for tomorrow's Xbox reveal? If comments and social media are to be believed, y'all are SUPER EXCITED mildly interested. Sounds about right.
With these console reveals you can be sure of a few things:
-Bingo cards/drinking games
I guess I have a couple of predictions of my own for this:
1) They won't show any Playstation games.
2) Nice fingernails.
3) A horrible lack of Daft Punk.
5) Sandwiches (not for us, obviously)
6) Someone will slip on something
8) Nice fingernails
9) A controller without a D-pad.
10) They won't show any Nintendo games.
11) Anti-grav skateboards
12) Bad shirt/tie combos
14) Need For Speed 15) Fifa 14 16) Pretty much EA
19) Repeated news posts
20) A fist bump
Sometimes, I'm reminded just how shit life can be. This week was a hell of a week for that. I don't understand people sometimes. Don't have much to say, emotionally drained from personal matters on top of some of this internet drama and some realizations. But I will leave with this link to a lovely roundtable discussion, between Chloe and Allistair. I wish them both the best.
Way back in January, when everyone was doing their Top Games of 2012 lists, Grethiwha chose Way of the Samurai 4 as his favorite game of the year, which intrigued me as I hadn't really heard much about the series until then. Well, it took me a while, but I'm finally getting into the series. I decided to start with Way of the Samurai 3, since it was cheaper, and then possibly get 4 depending on how much I liked 3. So far, I'm really enjoying 3 a lot! It seems to be slightly less wacky than the way Grethiwha described 4, but it's still a pretty silly game. If you look past the silliness, it's still a fairly solid samurai game. But the humor is where the game shines.
The very first thing I did in the game was pick up a green onion off the ground, which turned out to be a weapon you could use. So obviously I equipped that deadly veggie immediately, and then proceeded to beat a thug to death with it. And with that, within a few minutes of playing the game, I was already in love with it.
I continued into the village, where I helped a housewife chop vegetables with my vegetable, retrieved an old lady's lost underwear, and spoke to a beestung man who wished he'd been stung on his junk, so that maybe it would look bigger for the ladies.
Silliness aside, the gameplay is kind of strange but actually pretty unique. If you die in the game, you'll have to start over from the beginning of the story again, but any items, points or unlockable content you obtained in that playthrough will carry over into the next one. Permadeath gives the game sort of an arcade-y feel, but since the game can be beaten in only a few hours, and most progress you make carries over, it doesn't really feel unfair. It might become tedious for some people to have to replay parts of the story over and over again if they die, but you can keep things interesting by choosing different actions, dialogue options or story paths each playthrough. It might take a while to get used to, but it can be very rewarding when you finally get it.
So now I'm really looking forward to finding out what Way of the Samurai 4 holds. But in the meantime, I've still got plenty of thugs to kill with my trusty sideonion, while running around in my underwear, with a falcon on my shoulder.
So, last time on Young Just- Oh, wait. I promised video games, didn’t I?
Well then video games ye shall have!
First things first, though: as you saw yesterday in Strider’s caps, we’re looking for a new recapper to take on Sundays. I don’t want to alarm any of you, but if we don’t find one I have it on good authority that Phil will sadface. And not just a regular old sadface, but Phil will be all like:
And nobody wants that.
So if you think Phil doesn’t deserve to sadface and/or magically transform into a pony, get off your lazy butt and cap Sundays! Just send a PM to any of us or the Recaps account. As the freshest Recapper of the bunch (so fresh you guys) I can tell you that it’s a lot of fun to do. My experience is that a good portion of every day consists of good blogs, with some okay-ish ones making up the rest, and one or two shitty ones for you to throw on the Fail pile. And as an added bonus to reading mostly good stuff, in your own exclusive –isms or –gasms you get to talk about whatever the hell you’ve been spending time on during your week.
Like Young Justice! Which, incidentally, I’ve been watching this week and got up to the second season in which Robin is now Nightwi-NO! BAD SHADE. VIDEO GAMES!
You wouldn’t know it, but I actually played video games over the past week(s). Genuine, honest to god video games. ‘magine that. For one, I finished Papo & Yo and Anodyne, both of which are really great. I’ve got a lot to say about Anodyne in particular, but I’m probably going to save that for a blog of its own. I bought and started Of Orcs and Men, which is another awesome little game, as bbain will attest to.
What I want to talk about now, however, is Primordia.
Primordia is one of the best point-and-click adventure games I’ve ever played. No hyperbole. The fact that this game had to go through Steam Greenlight is also literally the reason I lost faith in the Greenlight system. Sure it set an amazing record for getting greenlit, but it should never have been on there in the first place, especially since it came from a well-established dev. Still bitter about that.
It’s the latest game by Wadjet Eye, who previously did Resonance and Gemini Rue, both of which I’ve yet to play unfortunately.
This game takes place in an apocalyptic future, where the only thing left on earth are robots, most of which don’t even remember what “humans” are anymore. The ones that DO remember worship them as the deity called “Man”. The protagonist is one of those latter robots. He lives in the wastes with his witty sidekick friend Crispin, until the power core that’s providing them with energy gets stolen by some big laser-shooting ‘bot, who takes it to the robot-city Metropol. Cue Horatio and Crispin going into pursuit, and finding more than they bargained for.
What follows is a story that borrows a thing or two from 1984, but which places it in a universe that is very well fleshed out and absolutely brimming with atmosphere. In particular, I felt that all of the different robots you meet throughout the game are really well done. Every single one of them has a very unique personality intertwined with them, well…being a robot. There are robot-Britons, robot “sir, yes, sir!” soldiers, robot prophets, and even robot lawyers.
All of them, from the first to the last, absolutely nail their role. I mentioned this before, but while “robot prophet” may sound ridiculous, the dude completely sells it. And as for the main character? Horatio’s voice was provide by the Bastion narrator. Yeah. You get to hear that dude in a starring role. It’s bloody awesome.
Because of all of these peculiar robots, there’s a fair share of humor in the game as well. Crispin in particular has some great lines. I heard some people criticizing this aspect because they felt it clashed with the more suppressive and dark story, but personally I felt that the game manages to keep the right balance pretty well. It knows when to be dark and when to be humorous; I for one never found something that bothered me. Instead, I think it did both aspects pretty well indeed.
I haven’t yet seen all of Primordia’s endings yet (from what I hear there are 10) but I’ve at least gotten one I can be satisfied with. Most importantly, the ending I got featured the full backstory on the game’s protagonist: there’s really interesting stuff in there. It probably wasn’t the absolute 100% “good ending”, but that doesn’t matter to me. It was more of a middle-of-the-road type of deal where some things get solved while some don’t, and it reminded me of Bastion’s ending a little bit. I actually like these kinds of endings a lot better than the standard “everything is all sunshine and flowers now” ending. Primordia definitely leaves the door open for some grey areas, which only serve to make it more compelling if you ask me.
So yeah, if you like point-and-click, sci-fi, the Bastion narrator, or simply well-written games, check out Primordia. Do it.
Ok Strider. Three things to check off tonight: Weekend recaps, Injustice update, anime update.
Oh, and Animal Crossinggodmotherfuckingdammit.
So first off, ever since I first joined the Recaps team, I always found it strange that everyone recaps one day except the weekends guy. Is it because the Weekend guy has more disposable time? Because he really likes weekends? Because they're a glutton for punishment to recap two days worth of good and shitty blogs?
Well, I guess I should've vocalized my thoughts earlier because we're thinking of splitting the weekend recaps into Saturday and Sunday recaps because Phil is losing sleep over his damn deal.
So PM anyone on the Recaps team or the Recaps account itself to express interest in taking one of the weekend days off of Phil. He's specifically said he doesn't want to let go of his usual recapping position because he's so close to tenure. But two days for arbitrary reasons is a bit weird and we're fixing that. Because Animal Crossing.
Injustice update: I'm playing Green Arrow now. I played him all wrong on launch day. His keepaway is shitty because he needs time to load trick arrows to make his keepaway decent and even then, the need to load trick arrows lets other zoners outpace him. He's all about rushdown and pressure, though unfortunately he needs time to load trick arrows to become decent. The good news however is that his freeze arrow, the crux of all his good combos, is completely free. Sure Green Lantern and Superman only need one bar for combo extensions but one bar means a lot when you need to save for pushblock, clash, and armored moves too. Green Arrow on the other hand can load freeze arrows for free or even end strings with a reload. He also has a combo with a low/high/low built into it, which makes him way more interesting for my Can he block it? series. Speaking of Can he block it?
I'm tempted to post a new Weeaboo Corner blog but I want to briefly touch on what I've been watching on Crunchyroll. Because Animal Crossing.
Attack on Titan Every dedicated anime fans' most anticipated anime for the season due to its critically acclaimed manga. Nearly every human on Earth lives in literally the last bastion of humanity, a massive walled fort that probably encompasses the space of Texas within its three walls. All to protect them from mysterious giants whose only purpose seems to be to eat and kill humans. As good as the action is going to be with humans equipped with fancy grapple machines to slice at the titan's weak spots (the nape of the neck), there's a ton of mystery involved as the humans in the show know about as much about the titans as the audience does, and the plot only thickens from there. The design of the titans are also consistently... unsettling.
The Hentai Prince and the Stony Cat We love immature jokes here on Destructoid. Perhaps some of us are all about stupid jokes. Perhaps those people aren't their true selfs when they get up and go to work. They need a facade to function normally in society. But in this show, what if you lost your facade or whatever other emotional mask you need? The protagonist is a horn dog really, but feels sad that he can't be his true self in public. But the cat statue at the edge of town promises to take what you don't want and give it to someone else. Now the protagonist can't help but remark at girls' bras in the rain out loud.
While it might sound like any other ecchi comedy, I really must stress that this show respects its character more than you expect and you get a lot of great development in the characters. Honestly, I started watching this series on a whim and didn't expect much when I saw your usual pervert shenanigans but by the end of the episode, I was hooked on seeing how Yokodera, Tsukiko, and Asuza turn out in the long run.
Valvrave the Liberator I thought it was going to be Gundam. It was Gundam with high school drama. Then three episodes after its hook of a pilot and it just became high school drama that happened to be in space with a Gundam. Not cool man.
Seriously, the titular robot was teased to have a mysterious curse. Something powerful enough to not only imbue the hero with the skills needed to pilot a powerful robot, but also bring him back from the dead to continue.
Instead, I get what is essentially Japanese Van Wilder. In space.