Scouring the internet for the latest gaming news to regurgitate to you, my hungry gamer children, is often a pretty laborious affair – especially as I am very picky about what gets included and what inspires the largest amount of positive or negative emotion in me. This week, however, the amount of work required to sift through news stories was intensified tenfold thanks to the poster child of all psychological capitalism – Black Friday. Seriously, go search for ‘video game news’ yourselves and see how many websites have been plastering video game deals all over their news sections this last week.
Black Friday can ruin an attempt at some honest research, but it can also ruin your self-esteem. Before we get down to the news, I’m just going to give you all a tip: beware early Black Friday sales – they are a lie. I got sent an email from Amazon last week advertising early Black Friday deals on TVs and finally took the plunge into the land of 4K. I got what I thought was a decent price on the TV I’d been eyeing for a while, only to find that a mere five days later it had dropped even further. During a conversation with the Amazon customer service chat man, he basically told me it was tough shit, they wouldn’t refund me the difference and, come Cyber Monday, the price would probably be even lower. Patience is a virtue, kids.
Oh, Of Course Microsoft Has Loads Planned for E3
Let’s get this non-surprise out of the way first. I think anyone with even a slightly vested interest in video games could have bet their granny on Microsoft going big on the hype for their 2019 E3 showcase in the wake of Sony announcing last week they were dropping out completely. Sometimes the marketing just does itself, folks.
— Xbox (@Xbox) November 15, 2018
The official Xbox Twitter account got the shithouse ball rolling with a simple enough tweet of “We can’t wait to see you all at @E3 2019,” which is to be expected as it’s pretty much marketing 101. As soon as Sony drop out, you publicly double down on the fact that you haven’t. Bish, bash, bosh – job done. But Xbox wasn’t done there, as the exec vice prez of gaming, Phil Spencer, later added (also via Twitter) “A lot to share with fans at E3 2019. Always a high point of the year to witness the industry’s creativity and the energy of the community.”
A lot to share with fans at E3 2019. Always a high point of the year to witness the industry’s creativity and the energy of the community. https://t.co/Uug2TUpxwI
— Phil Spencer (@XboxP3) November 15, 2018
This might not be SEGA vs Nintendo in the 90’s, but I’m going to drink it all in nonetheless. I don’t want to put words in Big Philly’s mouth, but I really hope that ‘witness the industry’s creativity’ line is a little jab at the fact that Sony have basically nothing to show us this year. One thing that is certain, however, is that Microsoft has been boasting about all the studios they’ve been acquiring in recent months, and we’re yet to see any games come out of it. By that logic, I’d expect them to have a solid number of exclusive titles to see out the Xbox One’s life. Anything else would be a severe misstep.
’76’ Experiences Its Own Nuclear Fallout
I could not be happier with the week that Fallout 76 has had. I may be a huge Fallout fan, and I may not have played the game (because why the hell would I want to?), but the amount of shit being thrown at this game from all circles is the kind of schadenfreude I haul my miserable arse out of bed for.
Firstly, and probably the best of all, the game has sold terribly. That B.E.T.A. event (which apparently did absolutely nothing to sort out any bugs or even server issues) was as misguided as the premise for the entire game, as it seems to have actively put a large number of potential players off. Yes, the gaming public has finally been savvy enough with its money to avoid buying it, with The Metro reporting sales are down 82% from Fallout 4 and other reports that it’s been discounted by $20 already – including directly from Bethesda.
A downturn in sales appears to be just desserts for the game, which has been roundly panned by just about every corner of the gaming media. I’ve yet to see anything close to a positive review, and most are simply baffled at what Bethesda really expected people to think of a buggy, broken and boring game that has stripped out almost every aspect linking it to the franchise in the first place. Giant Bomb’s legend Jeff Gerstmann said on their recent podcast that they were unlikely to even review Fallout 76 because “no one on staff wants to play any more of this video game.”
My worry here is that this can obviously go two ways. It should rightly go the way that Bethesda never do anything like this ever again, but of course it could cause the schmucks in suits to lose faith in the franchise if they just study the numbers. Honestly, though, what were they thinking? How has this broken insult to Fallout fans seen the light of day at all, let alone in the state that it released AFTER having a beta test?
Bethesda have had too much of a free pass in the last two generations for the terrible build quality of their games, and it turns out that people are a lot less willing to forgive that when the developer takes out NPCs and an interesting story, ruins the V.A.T.S. system, and builds a massive map that only has 24 players on it. It’s a bad idea done very badly, and the more the gaming public reacts negatively to industry bullshit like this, the better the future will hopefully be.
‘Gears of War’ News Pops Up
There were a couple pieces of Gears of War news this week, one likely to intrigue and one likely to instigate a rolling of the eyes. Do you want the good news first or the bad news? Bad news it is.
A gameplay trailer for the still inexplicable Gears POP! surfaced recently, showing off the snails-pace gameplay of the PvP strategy title. I suppose it can’t be argued that the game isn’t showing reverence to at least the characters of the Gears universe, as there will be plenty of unlockable POPs for your ‘deck’ (almost certainly for a price), but the gameplay could not be more removed, and quite frankly looks mind-numbingly bollocks. Don’t just take my word for it, bore yourself in the video below.
At least Gears POP! shouldn’t be the death knell for the franchise – even if it is yet another misguided attempt from a major developer to try to convince us that mobile gaming still matters – because some more information about Gears of War 5 emerged this week thanks to a transcription (taken from comicbook.com) from an X018 panel with Coalition studio head Rod Ferguson.
Rod stated that, for Gears 4, the fact that they were seen as something of a new studio having taken over from Cliff Bleszinski’s Epic Games, meant they had to play it relatively safe. He said, “we really felt that we had to prove ourselves, that we could make an authentic Gears of War experience.” Of course, anyone who played Gears 4 can certainly attest to the notion that it was a very by-the-numbers attempt to replicate a well-trodden formula, and that general consensus definitely put a downer on the reveal of Gears 5, with questions being asked as to what the series has left to offer.
Ferguson has moved to try and regain interest in the game, and indeed the series, as he explained “now, Gears 5 is about bringing The Coalition’s personality to the game. Now we’re gonna see a bunch of innovation, a bunch of change, a bunch of things that are really exciting, that are really different, but still feel very Gears of War.” Take from that what you will, but at least the studio previously proved they know how to make a Gears game that feels right, and they’re now willing to stamp their own mark on the franchise going forward, which is exactly what’s needed.
The Latest Snivelling Apologists Are Ubisoft (Again)
My word, the amount of joy I’ve been able to take from the misery of shitty studios and their shitty practices this week has been glorious. Remember a few weeks ago when Ubisoft were going to remove things like skulls, gambling and blood splatter from the global build of Rainbow Six: Siege to adhere to ‘Asian territories,’ despite the fact that they didn’t even expect any in-game interaction between that market and the west? Well, if you haven’t figured out by now that they’ve backtracked on that after fan uproar, then you’re not reading this article properly.
In a blog post on Tuesday, Ubisoft explained the following:
“We have been following the conversation with our community closely over the past couple of weeks… and we want to ensure that the experience for all our players, especially those that have been with us from the beginning, remains as true to the original artistic intent as possible.”
If this year in video games has taught us anything, it’s that if you all shout loud enough and long enough (in as respectful a way as possible, preferably) at publishers who make twatty decisions based on nothing but their own greed, they will eventually apologise and back down. Of course, anyone who wants to remain on the ‘gamers are entitled’ bandwagon could probably have a field day with this, but I’d say you’re probably allowed to feel a little entitled to expect your $60 game you’ve continued to play for years to retain its integrity and not bow down to a new, untested, unproven and potentially unviable market at your expense.
The blog post doesn’t explicitly detail whether the changes will remain in the build for the Asian territories – as it simply states that “Current players in Asian territories can continue enjoying the same game as the other players.” Assuming it keeps the changes over there and reverts back here in the west, it kind of renders this whole episode a totally pointless waste of everyone’s time, doesn’t it? Well done, Ubisoft.
Speaking of shouting at publishers, there are few fans less vocal than Smash Bros. fans. Of course, you don’t even have to be listening that hard to hear the cries for Waluigi to be included as a full character in Smash Ultimate, especially in the aftermath of Nintendo announcing they’d prefer to put a potted plant in there instead. Man, that’s got to be a pretty low blow to Waluigi – lower down the pecking order than a fucking plant.
Speaking with Okay, Cool, Nintendo of Canada’s Andrew Collins responded to the recent ire by saying, “As a marketer, when you have something that goes viral like that it’s brilliant. You can’t buy that. You can’t create it. And when the fans do something like that, it’s amazing. But it’s so good to see from a passionate side of things. And let’s face it, it’s funny.”
That last sentence could well annoy some of the more die-hard Smash fandom out there, especially if they think Nintendo are more content to sit and laugh at their collective whining than actually give them what they want, but I like that. As somewhat of a prick myself, I hope they really do sit there laughing while they mug us all off. Of course, this could conversely mean that Nintendo will eventually include Waluigi in Smash Ultimate and are just playing the long game to tease us and make us all go insane, but it could mean nothing other than they go on Reddit sometimes. It’s definitely a little promising, no?
Right, that’s your lot this week, I’m now off to record both the NXpress Podcast and the Not Red E Podcast before I go to bed, so you lot can go and practise your written gratitude for my hard work, enjoy your week, and I’ll see you in seven.