A true next-gen title without the restraints of accommodating the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 – or even the Wii U – The Crew is Ubisofts entry. Announced back at E3 this year, The Crew will be the publishers “biggest game ever created” which is saying something from the company behind the open-world Assassin’s Creed series.
Featuring the entire United States of America, Ubisoft Reflections (the studio behind Driver: San Francisco) and Ivory Tower are aiming to take varying elements from a variety of other popular racers and infuse them within a single title. Car customisation, open-world, persistent world, single-player campaign, co-op, multiplayer, missions, and much more will all feature.
The size of the map will result in a 90-minute drive from coast to coast in-game across the States in a world devoid of loading – or at least, that’s the goal. Drive through the bustling streets of New York City, cruise down Miami Beach, trek through Monument Valley, or visit Las Vegas, Florida, or Chicago. Quite how this transitions between locales remains to be seen but the premise is exciting.
Beyond the knowledge there’s a role-playing elements and that there are plans to use the new consoles social elements strongly, we still know very little about The Crew. If Need for Speed Rivals is anything to go by though, then the persistent world is potential a game-changer in the driving space and with a map as big as Reflection claim it could essentially become a racing MMO.
A wonderfully edited debut video gave The Crew a solid start in the eyes of the public but a delay into Q3 of next year put the brakes on a little. Nevertheless an experience whereby you jump online to race with your friends will always be an appealing one provided it is simple and has that necessary hook to keep you coming back – two things that The Crew will rely upon.
Ubisoft are trying to create a racer that’s about adventure, about making friends and about competition. Combining all of those aspects will be tricky but we’ve seen enough to have our intrigue.
Over two and a half years ago, Homefront released to a mixed reception following what looked like a highly promising pre-release marketing campaign. I for one enjoyed Homefront more than most, thanks to a surprising good multiplayer portion and a valiant, albeit poorly executed single player.
With an extremely appealing plot the Homefront series could become something rather wonderful – especially given that Crytek, the developers behind the successful shooter franchise Crysis, are not in command.
Let’s rewind a little bit however. Back in June 2011, Danny Bilson (of the late THQ) confirmed the existence of a Homefront sequel stating that it would address all of the negatives of the first game. Of course, since this date THQ suffered the terrible fate of declaring Chapter 11 bankruptcy in December 2012 which saw Crytek pay $544,218 for the franchise.
Prior to the downfall of THQ, Homefront 2 was due for a release in the current financial year (April 2013 until March 2014) on PC and then “unspecified consoles” so we can assume that those would be both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Given that we’ve never had an official reveal for Homefront 2 who knows when it could actually release now and a lot will depend on how much the THQ saga had an affect on development – though this is something that Crytek’s CEO, Cevat Yerli, denied stating that the game will undertake “no tangible change whatsoever” as a result of THQ’s problems, adding that the development of Homefront 2 is isolated anyway and being treated as their own new IP.
Such a reveal could be on the horizon though after the first alleged images of the title leaked online back in October. The “work-in-progress” images from part of a “promotional handout” suggest that at least part of the game will be set in New York – which would mark a fresh setting for the series following the San Francisco locale of the original.
Not only that but Crytek UK confirmed that they are “making great progress” with the upcoming shooter and that they intend to “reinvent” the franchise. Whether this means changing the theme from the invasion by the Korean People’s Army on North America remains to be seen. I for one hope that it does not though given that it was an extremely intriguing and unique premise and one that, given the USA were being invaded and the underdogs themselves, is rarely explored.
With next-gen consoles an almost certain destination and given Crytek’s pedigree, Homefront 2 will likely be something that needs to be seen to be believed – a visual masterpiece. The art direction available with the series opens up an exciting prospect along with the likely continuation of the narrative.
Hopefully we’ll receive an official reveal for Homefront 2 soon and our expectations, following its predecessor and the studio now behind it, are high – albeit realistic. The game’s current scheduled release for 2014 is its reason for inclusion in our most anticipated games for this year, though to have not heard anything about a game and see it released within 12 months would be something rather unique in itself.
The final next-gen console to hit the shores of the UK, the PlayStation 4 completes the set. Having had two weeks to be immensely jealous of our brethren across the pond, the eventual release has arrived, but was the console worth the wait?
Slender and contemporary, the PlayStation 4 is a stunningly beautiful console with it’s angled profile highlighted by the thin light bar that glows softly within the black frame. The dual-finish creates a complementary effect that results in an attractive console that won’t look out-of-place under any TV.
No longer supporting analog outputs, the rear of the console houses digital-only ports with HDMI and optical out. A dedicated port for the PlayStation Camera frees up one of the front-facing USB 3.0 ports for other things, but it’s the inclusion of an internal power supply that is more impressive.
That Sony’s engineers have managed to fit such powerful hardware in a sleek container, all-the-while keeping it cool and wonderfully quiet without the need to have a hefty power brick is remarkable.
Now into the fourth iteration of the DualShock, it sees a drastic evolution in several ways compared to both the PlayStation 3’s DualShock 3 and the history of more recent controllers. It’s larger chassis provides a more ergonomic and therefore comfortable feel that slots into the palms of your hand effortlessly.
The triggers have been curved to provide a seat for the tips of your fingers, a stark contrast to the slippery concave triggers of the past seven years or so. Analogue sticks have been tweaked to be slightly wider apart, fractionally smaller and given a ring of grip, though they do feel as though they could be worn down over time – something to keep an eye on. As for the d-pad, the excellent DS3 pad has been improved upon further to become sturdier and more satisfying to press.
Elsewhere there are some throwing out of the controller rulebook. The Start and Select buttons are sent to confines of the past being replaced by the Share and Options button – though the latter acts in the same fashion as the Start button in most titles.
There is a speaker located where the PS button used to be, thus pushing that particular button down a centimeter, and a microphone port on the underside for use with the supplied wired headset.
Two of the biggest additions though are the touchpad and lightbar. The former is a 2-inch by 1-inch capacitive surface akin to a laptop touchpad which also features a click mechanism – something that provides another input option for developers. Its smooth touch and responsive button press, as well as its placement, are delightful and, provided it’s implemented, will be a big addition to the controller.
The lightbar functions as a PlayStation Move-esque marker for the PlayStation Camera, something showcased via the bundled Playroom app, but it’s colour is generally more of an aesthetic one but certainly a welcome one.
With several colours, it can dictate which player is which, indicate your health in a shooter, or just display a colour related to the game you’re playing. Any concern that you won’t see the light given its location on the top of the controller is misplaced as the subtle glow it places upon for trigger fingers is mightily pleasant.
A series of minor adjustments and bold changes sees the DualShock 4 become one of the best controllers in history. It’s sturdy and a gratifying weight that comes packed with improvements. The battery life seems considerable shorter than that of the DS3 but standby charging on the PS4 alleviates that somewhat. Other than minor worries over the longevity of the thumbsticks the DualShock 4 is utter fantastic.
Although not bundled with the standard SKU, the PlayStation Camera is a compact device that makes for a more well-rounded PlayStation 4 experience and is an add-on that I heartily recommend. Even with the small uses currently of facial recognition for login or broadcasting yourself on Twitch or UStream, it adds that something extra.
Outputting at a 1280×800 pixel resolution it does what is needed of it. The implementation of the lightbar on the DualShock 4 will likely see more PlayStation Move like functionality within titles down the line although Playroom is the only game that really uses it currently.
It’s able to accurately decipher faces in even low-light conditions and you can use it for the PS4’s limited voice command functionality. This works well provided you speak loudly enough and follow the specific onscreen instructions – though of course you can also do these voice commands through a headset with nearing complete accuracy, though given that you’d have a controller in your hand are currently rather redundant.
No longer the XMB and now the PDM (PlayStation Dynamic Menu) the UI on the PS4 is simply glorious. A crisp and clean interface that is also fast, responsive and a breeze to navigate makes it tremendously impressive. The large icons for your library as eye-catching and the way the top menu changes once you navigate upwards is splendid.
There are many aspect to the interface including the PlayStation Store (which loads almost instantaneously), Notifications, Friends, Messages, Party, Profile, Trophies, Settings, and Power. Some of these submenus are merely iterations from the XMB and others drastically change your PlayStation experience.
Notifications is, similar to that on many smartphones, an area depicting your notifications – such as recent trophies and messages, invitations to games, game alerts, download information and uploads. From any of these you can see a list of recent activity and jump straight to whatever it is quickly and easily.
Friends are grouped similarly to before though the ability to show your full name (which is shown to other players via approved name requests) is most welcome. No longer do I have to try to rack my brain over whose strange username this is.
Messages are largely the same, although you can now send voice messages. Party chat is finally makes it’s debut on a PlayStation home console and is fantastic. You can have multiple chats on the go that you can dip in and out of; each on supporting up to eight people.
Your profile, which you can now sync with Facebook and import your profile picture from, displays your trophy list, information, current game playing, as well as allowing you to change your bountiful privacy options and sort through your uploads folder. Trophies haven’t seen much of a change other than the addition of the rarity for each trophy which gives you an indication of just how impressed you should be.
Settings are as you would expect with plenty of options to customise your PS4, whilst the power settings, currently missing the Suspend/Resume feature, offers the ability to log out, enter standby mode or turn off the console.
There’s plenty that can still be improved upon for the PS4’s UI and if the evolution of the XMB over the years taught us anything it’s that it will do exactly that. Currently the inability to filter or sort things on the main home screen isn’t an issue but within six months or so it could be. Right now though it’s simply wonderful and one of the slickest and most visually pleasing interfaces around. It is possible to get lost in the myriad of menus and options, but after a few hours of use – thus learning the system – it felt second nature.
A feature of the PlayStation 4 that will likely be one of the biggest. The ability to quickly and easily share a screenshot, upload video or even broadcast your gameplay is fantastic. With two variations of inputs available by either a short press, a long press or a double tap of the controller-based share button you can take a screenshot, begin broadcasting or access the share menu with ease.
With the PlayStation 4 constantly recording the last 15 minutes of gameplay you can edit and trim footage on the spot – or, by simply jumping into the share menu, save it for later – before uploading it to Facebook or Twitter. Currently being able to only push video to Facebook is disappointing, as is the level of compression, but it’s a good start nonetheless.
Over time I’d like to see more options with regards to sharing. Sites to upload content, ability to duplicate videos, editing options, upload quality, and watermarks to name a few.
Another feature of the PS4 I love is remote play. Having the ability to play my PS4 games on my Vita while I’m downstairs having breakfast or in bed is awesome. What’s even better is that it works flawlessly, assuming you’re in range.
There is no discernible input lag over a direct connection to the PS4, and the range is far enough. I can imagine myself spending many a late night bombing through Resogun again and again.
If you’re looking for a reason to pick up a Vita, but its games alone don’t quite sell you, this is as good a reason as any. Any game that doesn’t require use of the PlayStation camera (so only the Playroom at launch) supports it, and it really is fantastic.
I do wish some developers would put a bit more effort into adjusting the controls for the Vita though. While games like Need for Speed and Resogun translate well to the Vita, FIFA 14 is a game that noticeably doesn’t. Sprinting and tactical defending with the back touch (where L2 and R2 are mapped) is really unintuitive.
For the past few years many corners of the videogame industry have declared the death of console gaming following a few years of stagnation and decline, briefly coming up for air with a blockbuster release like Call of Duty or Grand Theft Auto. Whilst these discussion and musings where worthy of having they were critically overlooking the prolonged length of the seventh-generation and the increasing demand for something new and shiny.
The struggles the Wii U has faced since its launch last year has not helped alleviate any concerns either, with Nintendo’s latest home machine failing to make any sort of dramatic impact.
Roll on a few months or years and the next-gen duo of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One have sold a staggering 3.1 million units within a two-week spell.
“We are humbled and grateful for the excitement of Xbox fans around the world,” said Yusuf Mehdi, Corporate Vice President of Marketing and Strategy, Xbox. “Seeing thousands of excited fans lined up to get their Xbox One and their love for gaming was truly a special moment for everyone on the Xbox team. We are working hard to create more Xbox One consoles and look forward to fulfilling holiday gift wishes this season.”
In the UK alone the PS4 moved 250,000 units in the opening 48 hours to become the fastest selling console on our shores. When combined with the Wii U, the next-gen trio have over 600,000 consoles already in the UK – an impressive feat indeed.
“It’s an impressive and record-setting accomplishment for our company and for our industry, and we couldn’t have done it without you,” SCE boss Andrew House stated. “I want to personally thank PlayStation fans, both old and new, for your vote of confidence.
“The best part: the PS4 journey has just begun. In addition to an incredible line-up of PS4 games from the best developers in the world, we will continue to introduce valuable new features and services to PS4 in the months and years ahead.
Given that both the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 are in short supply at the moment it’s clear that gamers across the globe have been desperate for some new hardware. The next few years will be so very exciting.
Just over six months ago Techland popped up to announce another zombie game – a month after Dead Island: Riptide hit the shelves. This time is was something different though. Grander, vaster, dynamic and unrestricted; it’s a vision of a bold game that aims to push what has been done before in the genre.
A day-night cycle with some Mirror’s Edge-style free running was touted early on to whet the appetite but it wasn’t until the first gameplay video a month later that the groundwork was well and truly laid. It was mightily impressive and showcased a next-gen experience, visually at the very least – with the title confirmed to be hitting PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.
Following a hands-on with the game it had me completely sold. There’s certainly still niggling issues over stability and polish based on the past few Techland games, and the potential variety of the gameplay, but the expansiveness and current feature set are extremely exciting.
Run for your life
It’s all be a bit quiet on the promotional front for the title though, with the studio hard at work, so it’s possible that it slipped under your radar. So just what is Dying Light about?
“The game takes place in the fictional city of Harem,” words from the mouth of the game’s producer, Tymon Smektala. “The city has been closed by the army because of the zombie outbreak and you are just one of the survivors trapped in the city. At the start of the game you just want to survive, but then you find some clues about what happened.”
Surviving is at the heart of Dying Light and it’s what makes it so enthralling. Whether it’s something you do on your own or with others thanks to four-player co-op, you’ll be sprinting your ass off either heading to the next objective with the sun burning in the sky or fleeing for your life with a hoard of brain hungry zombies sprinting behind you.
The day-and-night cycle looks to have a substantial impact on the gameplay, including your own tactics and is the aspect of the game that has intrigued me most.
A tale about a zombie
By incorporating a free-roaming element as well as a more linear plot will hopefully provide both an element of freedom without sacrificing an interesting story. Something that the team are keen on emphasising.
“We bumped our writers team two-fold since the release of Dead Island so we’re quite confident that we can really create a story that’s engaging, interesting and that people will like,” said Smektala. “I really would like to reach that point in promoting the game that we can talk about our story. I think it has that unique Techland feel to it but the nature is very interesting. Many people will be surprised by it; it’s not your regular zombie story, that I’m sure off.”
The combination of free-running, an open world, the day and night cycle and drop-in-drop-out co-op make this a truly exciting title. Already it’s visually impressive, but it’ll all come down to how fleshed out the title ends up being as the gameplay was already well refined back in September.
There’s still plenty of time until release as well, with a launch not until the summer of next year; this leaves ample time to polish and add substance what was already a surprisingly slick title.
Occasionally it’s fun to speculate as to what may happen within the videogames industry and today just so happens to be one of those days. After Square Enix all but confirmed that a ‘Definitive Edition’ of Tomb Raider is seemingly on its way, the pieces of the jigsaw are falling into place for what seems like a next-gen re-release of one of this year’s best titles.
The publisher exclaims that we should “keep an eye on any major gaming events happening in early December” which will almost certainly be referencing VGX (formerly the Video Game Awards) which streams on December 7 – for a potentially laborious three hours. We’ll likely see a plethora of new announcements, for next-gen in particular, at the event but it’s the possibility and potential of next-gen re-releases that has been intrigued.
It wasn’t until three years into its life that we saw the PlayStation 3′s first HD remake in the form of the God of War: Collection; what followed was a over 60 releases, many in bundles, of games remastered in HD and often with additional features to lure in those with a nostalgic itch. Not only were they incredibly popular but they also helped to bring a new audience to some of the best games from the past generation.
Though the graphical leap from PlayStation 2 to PlayStation 3 was impressive, it was the bump up from standard definition to HD that was a big draw for their creation. It’s for this very reason that, in the long run, I don’t expect to see many next-gen re-releases. However, in the short-term, it’s an entirely different ball game.
Quiet after the storm
As with the launch of any console the selection of games is relatively small and the release schedule is expectedly quiet for at least a year compared with what we’ve become used to and it represents the opportune time to push out some of the best games from both the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 onto the next-generation consoles.
Which games should come to next-gen will more often than not fall into two categories: those released in the past year or two and the classics from further back.
For those released more recently, such asTomb Raider, their PC counterparts were often better looking than the PS3/360 versions so the amount of development time would hopefully be kept to a minimum (especially given the ease of porting from PC to PS4/XBO). Having titles such as Tomb Raider, Far Cry 3, Journey, Hitman: Absolution, Dishonored, Borderlands 2 and others on next-gen consoles at a bargain price seems like a win-win for everyone.
Then there’s the cream of the crop from the departing generation. Games that were perhaps released further back, say the Uncharted or Mass Effect trilogies, that would be great to play again in full 1080p at 60fps and with improved visuals, especially leading into new iterations in the franchise. The God of War: Collection launched a few months prior to God of War III providing an opportunity for those that are not up-to-date in the series the chance to do so, whilst also acting as a revisit for many and a cash injection for the developer and publisher.
Already half way there
Sony are already bringing some fantastic titles from the PlayStation 3 to PlayStation 4 in the form of fl0w, Flower and Sound Shapes, and I’m sure we can expect many more. The Halo Anniversary sold extremely well on the Xbox 360 and I’d love to see an Xbox One version of Halo 4 a few months before the next Halo game releases.
Getting the chance to revisit some of the current-generation’s best titles again in the quieter period of next-gen is incredibly appealing providing they price it aggressively; the trilogy approach for the HD Remasters was fantastic with their budget price.
Whilst the visual benefits may not be as large as from the sixth- to seventh-generations, there are plenty of new innovations that present exciting possibilities. Streaming and sharing features, for example, on the new consoles will allow users to promote brands and spread the joy to for other gamers to see and fall in love with – especially if it’s soon before a full next-gen release.
Will we get re-releases on the next-generation beyond smaller PSN titles? Who knows. I for one certainly hope so though. My big concern would be how would this impact the PlayStation 4′s inbound Gaikai streaming service with providing a form of backwards compatibility. Only time will tell.
Whilst seemingly drifting between REM cycles at 4am in the morning, I was hoping for something special at the PS4 All Access event and boy, it didn’t take long to deliver. There are just a few developers in the world that can truly get the excitement pumping following an extremely short teaser trailer along with a logo, but Naughty Dog are one of them.
So the announcement of a brand new Uncharted game for the PlayStation 4 is as big for Sony as the Halo announcement at E3 was for Microsoft. We know literally nothing on the title but that just doesn’t matter; the prospect of a next-gen Uncharted from Naughty Dog is mouth-watering.
Following on from the videogame defining Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception and The Last of Us, whatever it was that the Californian studio did next was going to be hotly anticipated and rightly so. It’s likely that we’ll get our first look at VGX (previously named the Video Game Awards) but for the next month – at least – we’ll have to make do with speculation and wish-listing.
Following on from a simply exceptional trilogy on the PlayStation 3, it’ll be interesting to see where the Uncharted series goes next – and if the teaser was anything to go by we may not even play as protagonist Nathan Drake. As with InFamous: Second Son, Sucker Punch are taking the PlayStation 3 franchise into the next-generation with a reboot and a new lead character, could we see Naughty Dog do the same and drop Nathan Drake and take Uncharted in a whole new direction.
Personally, I don’t see it, but it’s certainly not out of the realm of possibility. One things for sure though is that the pressure on Naughty Dog to deliver something truly exceptional will already be sky-high. Given that their last four titles have garnered a Metacritic average of nearly 93 anything less than exceptional will be seen as a disappointment but to doubt the studio would be foolish. After all, you don’t make four hugely successful concurrent titles just be chance.
Returning to the world of Uncharted will be a welcome one with its lavish action scenes, witty dialogue and more jovial tone than that of The Last of Us – which we’ll be able to play a little bit more with in spring 2014 with the newly announced ‘Left Behind’ DLC.
A new Uncharted gives PlayStation fans something to look forward to in the distant future – much like the Halo announcement at E3 did for Xbox fans. It’s a series with some serious weight now and the thought of what it could look like on next-generation hardware is truly astounding. Let’s hope that it goes some way to meeting my already lofty expectations.
With the next-generation of consoles just around the corner I’ve worked tirelessly to bring you the next generation of One Hit Pixel in time to welcome in a new era with a contemporary look, a new focus and a fresh way of producing our content. So here it is!
Now fully free of the shackles of last year’s name change, One Hit Pixel is ready to flourish into a site that combines both visual and literary substance as we press forward with a clear focus on the next-generation consoles, bringing you solely original content.
A New Way Of Working
No longer will we posting up reworded press releases or the latest trailer unless we personally have something to say about it. There’s plenty of sites around that already cover every shred of news out there but that’s not us. We will be bringing you our own thoughts on what’s going on in the industry, about newly announced titles and what we want from them, about just how stunning a new cinematic is and what that could mean going forward for the title.
Everything will hopefully be something that you’ll be able to enjoy, and something that you’ll not find anywhere else – something unique. Also, we’re shifting our focus to primarily the next-generation consoles – PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Wii U – as well as the PC of course. We will still cover both the PlayStation Vita and Nintendo 3DS, though our coverage of the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and mobile titles will reduce significantly over time.
We have a lot of other content in the pipeline – including video content, but, as with many of the next-gens features, will be a 2014 thing.
Giving Special Attention
One of the new things that we’re bringing to the table are dedicated hubs to particular topics that we want to give special focus to. This could be a platform, a game, an event, a feature, anything that we deem appropriate.
Each of the hubs are custom designed and will merge both our content with said topic and other details (videos, lists, charts, etc) that we want to display – plus it will be something that evolves over time as we write more and new things reveal themselves. For now, we have hubs for both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, though you can expect a new hub, on average, every month.
Developing For The Future
Whilst many complimented One Hit Pixel’s debut look, I wanted something new, something fresh. Both the style and implementation of the new design have been in development since February this year and have seen thousands of hours poured into it.
The bold style has been iterated on dozens of times and will I’ll continue to do so as the requirements change over time. There’s plenty on the horizon as well with regards to features we offer and help to provide content to you in new and interesting ways.
One of the main aspects of this new look is the responsive design. Whether viewing on a desktop, tablet or mobile you’ll get a site that’s more appropriate for that platform. Each experience has been optimised to help relax the strains on your bandwidth and allows you to get the full site on a small screen – though, of course, the desktop experience is the bees knees.
Another major change is the removal of comments. Whilst I’ll freely admit we were never inundated with discussions on the site, we engaged in plenty on other social media and have decided that the likes of Twitter and Facebook are where we will talk until the cows come home.
In the next coming months you can expect to see plenty of gorgeous looking reviews, blogs and features as we kick off a new generation in our much loved passion. Now well into our fourth year, we aim to continually improve our content and hope that you enjoy reading it.
There’s plenty to be excited about in the lead-up to next-gen launches – which are now just four/five weeks away depending on which land of glory you’re heading towards.
The PlayStation 4 has had a rosy lead-up so far with barely even a niggle, but the delays of Driveclub and Watch Dogs from launch were blows that it (and the Xbox One for the latter) could have done without. Plenty has been speculated and dismissed, such a HDCP (High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection) on its games which would’ve prevented from being recorded, but one thing that was true is that the PlayStation 4 will not support current-gen bluetooth headsets for chat, and will require a post-launch patch for USB-based headsets to be compatible. Even Sony’s own PULSE headset will require a patch to be used at all – not just for chat.
One Hit Pixel has learned, via a PlayStation representative, that this patch is aiming to be out by the end of the year, but don’t be surprised if it slips into early 2014. It’s frustrating that we could potentially have to wait several months in order to be able to use bluetooth headsets with a brand new bit of tech, but at least the console will come bundled with the controller-connected mono headset.
It’s not just the PS4 that will have such restrictions though, as the Xbox One’s adapter to use third-party headsets has been delayed into 2014.
Such feature delays are frustrating but thankfully minor in the grand scheme of things. So, if you plan on using cross-game chat for the first time on a home PlayStation console then you’ll either have to use the provided wired headset, or wait until early next year.
Mere days after Ubisoft announced that Watch Dogs, one of next-generations flagship titles, would be delayed from the launch of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One into next year, Sony have dealt another blow to the new era of gaming. Driveclub, the PlayStation 4′s exclusive racer, has been delayed into 2014. Rumours have been circulating for a day or two but this morning President of Sony Worldwide Studios, Shuhei Yoshida, has confirmed the delay.
“Driveclub will be a truly innovative, socially connected racing game, but the team requires more time in order to deliver on their vision — and I’m fully confident the game will surpass your expectations,” reads the statement on the Official PlayStation Blog.
Set to be a PlayStation Plus launch bonus, Yoshida announced that in its place will be Contrast, the highly anticipated PSN title from Compulsion Games – which will be free to download on day one for Plus members. When Driveclub eventually releases in the new year it will still be part of the Instant Game Collection as well though.
Whilst the delay will undoubtedly be good for the game it places somewhat of a downer on the PlayStation 4′s launch line-up as it removes the only exclusive racer for Sony. They’ve had the run of the green up until now but this is the first time that Microsoft will be pleased of the going-ons. When combined with the delay to Watch Dogs it’s not been a great week for the next-generation consoles – especially so close to release.
Heading into the final stretch before release, the PlayStation 4 has ridden the successful waves of the onrushing tide so far. Almost everything bit of news that comes out ends up being positive, despite the occasion rumour that would suggest otherwise (such as the initial story suggest that HDCP would once again be used on the HDMI output of gaming content which was then quashed). How would the console hold up though under it’s first UK hands-on at EGX in Earl’s Court.
It was the first time that gamers had the chance to put the new controller in their hands and watch the spangling new titles on TVs before their very eyes. There was a huge PlayStation presence this year, bigger than previously. A giant suspended screen featured over an hours worth of PlayStation focused content above the open and welcoming PlayStation 4 booth, whilst the Vita showcased a wealth of impressive titles and many third-party titles used Sony’s upcoming machine to demonstrate, a stark turnaround from previous years.
Slick Lines And New Buttons
Whilst it was difficult to see the console hidden away in perspex containers beneath the glowing screen illuminated with a variety of next-gen goodness, the PlayStation 4 looks as beautiful in the flesh as its renders and photos suggest. Without getting my hands on one it’s hard to talk much more about it other than I was, even knowing the size, surprised at how small it was. Granted, it’s by no means a tiny bit of kit but it’s slick and compact that it reminds you just how behemoth the original PlayStation 3 was. Much more akin to the first version of the slim PlayStation 3 than anything it’s pleasing to see a console so seemingly well designed that it can both fit into such a small chassis and without needing to ship with a hefty power brick either.
The figurehead of the PlayStation 4 before the actual console’s eventual reveal was the DualShock 4 and it’s not hard to see why Sony lauded over the newly designed controller. A little bit larger than it’s predecessor the DualShock 3, the fourth numbered iteration of this iconic controller is wonderfully comfortable to hold. The triggers are far improved, as are the analogue sticks and the implantation and use of the touchpad was well demonstrated (though, as you can read later, Dave disagreed).
Really I’d need substantially more time with the DS4 to get a true understanding of any bugbears or potential wonderments, but my initial time was both pleasurable and comfortable so I expect big things from this controller – whatever that may actually mean.
Killzone: Shadow Fall
The big exclusive shooter for the next-generation launch is a refresh on the popular franchise of Killzone. Single player looks to add a lick of colour to the lauded grey and gloomy series, but that was not on show as it was all about the multiplayer.
Running at 60fps it’s the change that many wanted and it’s clear as to why. The weighty feel of Killzone is one of the reasons I love it so to have both that and a much faster response was enlightening. Shadow Fall felt both swift and heavy at the same time and seems to be the ideal next-generational successor in terms of controls. Then there’s the simple mind-blowing visuals. Comfortably the most visually impressive next-gen title currently, the team at Guerrilla Games have crafted a stunningly beautiful title that showcases the power of the PlayStation 4.
The multiplayer demo gave a first taste of Shadow Fall’s Warzone mode which sees objectives alter throughout the session from deathmatch to defend-the-base to capture-and-hold – which allowed variation in play style within a single mission. There wasn’t much time to take a look at much else other than try out some of the special abilities for each class and witness just how damn pretty it all was.
How Shadow Fall’s challenge based progression system rather than XP works will be interesting, as will combat honours, but after an initial session with it I cannot wait to jump back in.
I’ve always been a fickle creature when it comes to racers. I general like them all but it’s difficult to keep me hooked. Arcade racers is where I generally have a far more enjoyable time, but I’m never shy from giving a proper simulation a good go. Driveclub however, looks like the ideal blend of the two.
From Evolution Studios, the team behind the MotorStorm franchise, Driveclub will be seen as a direct competitor to the established Forza Motorsport 5 as the exclusive next-gen racers, but it offers something rather unique – the ability to succeed without having to win the race. As it balances between arcade and sim racer, the team element of Driveclub is what makes it incredibly appealing. With in-race goals such as top-speed, drifting, and following the racing line you can earn points for your club which is exceptionally gratifying even if you then fail miserably to post an impressive time as I did.
Beyond the enjoyable racing is a graphical prowess that kicks you in the face it’s so good. Videos on YouTube do it no justice as the environments and cars are something to behold. Not until you see them side-by-side, does Driveclub make the otherwise incredibly looking Gran Turismo 6 seem somewhat flat.
Written by Dave Irwin.
Having this free-to-play game coming to consoles is a big deal. By taking advantage of the PS4 hardware, this frantic run-and-gun horde mode at times made me feel like I was a killing machine – butchering all foes that dared to get in my way. Not only did it look fantastic, but the framerate was consistently high, making my dance of death with the melee weapon look spectacular.
However, one detail turned this experience to a sour one for me – the gimmicky use of the PS4 controller’s touchpad. Swiping in certain directions activated powers the hero has, bolstering his defence or creating shockwaves to send enemies flying. The dissonance that surrounds this one mechanic made me question for the first time whether or not developers could wisely use the touchpad on the new controller. As a free to play experience, it is perhaps the best the PS4 has to offer, but I can’t help but wonder if it has highlighted a flaw with the controllers design.
Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag
Written by Dave Irwin.
As one of the first to play this particular game at EGX this year, I found I had longer than others did to sail the Caribbean seas. When I wasn’t engaged in ship battles or swimming through the first island I came across, I found my crew and I singing sea shanties as the realistic waves crashed against the side of my vessel – plundering all in my wake.
Coming across a few islands, each with scattered treasure and villages, I decided to answer a behest to assassinate two poachers. Upon arriving in their island hideout, it was clear that going in all guns blazing was not a wise idea. Instead, sneaking up on them to eventually put these poachers in their deathbed was the way to go. Alas, while my assassin skills were still top-notch, I was rumbled on my escape as I tried to save two hostages they were holding. A sword fight later and they were dead. The two hostages joined my crew and after some more time sailing aimlessly, my voyage came to an abrupt end.
Having the map on the touch pad is a nice feature and the game feels better being on the new hardware. As a pirate simulator, it is one of the best out there, with the next-gen version showing a significant leap in quality.
Set to be the dark horse of the next-gen launches, Resogun is Finnish developers Housemarque’s latest venture into potential greatness as they attempt to resurrect and redefine classics arcade game Defender. Having already stormed the PlayStation Network with the Super Stardust series, we should expect a similar standard from Resogun.
A bold and vivid art style, super smooth and responsive controls, incredible particle effects, and an urge to defeat wave after wave of enemies sets this side-scrolling shooter up to be a colossal hit.
Needing to save humans from abduction, powering through lines of enemies with boosts or disintegrating them out with a mesmerizing bomb, tackling goliath bosses and weaving in and out of danger is what Resogun is about. SCEE’s Senior Business Development Manager, Shahid Ahmad threw money at his screen when he first saw Resogun and it’s not hard to see why.
“So what do I do?”, I gingerly asked a PlayStation rep who responded with a simple shrug of the shoulders before telling me to just have a go. What followed was equal parts bemusing, wonderful and mesmerizing. Hohokum is of similar vain to Flower, a game that doesn’t explain what to do and lets you figure it out for yourself and the result is joyous.
Set for release on PlayStation 3 and Vita as well as the PS4, the Honeyslug developed title sees you play a serpent creature as you fly around in the non-linear and wacky environment, free of scores or time limits. There are no lives, no tutorials, no crushing potential pitifuls; just a relaxing and enjoyable space for you to explore. Visual cues were used to highlight tasks to complete but all without the challenge to advance or needing to avoid failure.
I flew around, interacting with pipes, pine cones and creatures with balloons, providing lifts for elephant-esque fellows to suction up some gooey substance and just admiring the delightful art style. It was a joy to play; some simple yet complex, allowing you to discover things for yourself rather than hand-holding you at every corner – and something that others certainly were intrigued by as they crowded round to watch. Hohokum is just one of the marvellous looking titles that Sony invests in and hopefully it can be placed amongst the best.
Octodad: Dadliest Catch
As you try to live out your life as an Octopus masquerading as a human, Octodad: Dadliest Catch looks set to feature great humour alongside it’s frustrating yet novel controls. Aiming not to alert others of your true nature, you must prepare Octodad for his wedding which incurs great difficulty. The controls are certainly unique with a single tentacle arm controlled by both analogue sticks (one for height and width and the other for depth with regards to position) and each leg controlled by first switching to leg mode and the holding either the right or left triggers.
Featuring a quirky art style, Octodad has garnered a rather substantial following since it’s Independent Games Festival and then the Dadliest Catch’s Kickstarter funding and it’s easy to see why. A lovely, mad, frustrating, satisfying, funny and clever title is something anyone can get on board with.
It’s difficult to judge a console on such little game time given that it will become a mainstay in households day-in-day-out for foreseeable future. There was little on show though that did anything other than ramp up the excitement around the machine and both the quality and diversity of launch titles is immensely promising. Hopefully the full titles will live up to their snippets as we soon enter a new era of videogame history.
Sony’s had the bulk of the positivity since the PlayStation 4′s announcement and there was nothing here to suggest that that’s anything other than fully warranted.
Oh my. Consider this is blow to the next-gen launches as Ubisoft has confirmed that Watch Dogs has been delayed until Spring 2014. Set for release in just five weeks time, the delay is unusually late considering the anticipation of the title and the length of the delay.
“As we got closer to release,” reads a press release from the company, “as all the pieces of the puzzle were falling into place in our last push before completion, it became clear to us that we needed to take the extra time to polish and fine tune each detail so we can deliver a truly memorable and exceptional experience.”
“We would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you. We thoroughly enjoy and appreciate the way you respond on the web, at events, press conferences and other opportunities we have to interact. Your passion keeps us motivated.”
This delay could cause some serious grief for users who have pre-ordered the official Watch Dogs PlayStation 4 or Xbox One bundles as they may now lose their place in the pre-order queue – something which is key given the huge volume of orders ahead of release.
Meanwhile, The Crew, Ubisoft’s next-gen open-world racer has also been shunted to a release between July and September next year instead of early 2014.
Back in February Ubisoft delayed the release of Rayman Legends on the Wii U to coincide with the newly announced PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions just a few weeks before it was due out – having already been pushed back from being a Wii U launch title.
Announced back in May this year, shortly after the release of Dead Island: Riptide, Dying Light seemed like it was destined to be a next-gen Dead Island title as Polish developer Techland tried to squeeze as much ‘life’ as they could out of the zombie franchise. Following the game’s 11-minute gameplay reveal at Gamescom though those thoughts dispelled. There was something exciting, something fresh about Dying Light, dare I say it, something a little bit different than your typical zombie title.
This was something that I’m now confident about following a hands-on demonstration and chat with the game’s producer Tymon Smektala. Surrounded by a cacophony of noise, we spoke about a variety of things surrounding the game as I played through one of the missions in the upcoming multi-generation and multiplatform title. Tymon was confident and clear about Dying Light, its ideas, mechanics, and the reasons for particular choices.
“The game takes place in the fictional city of Harem,” he began, providing me with a brief overview of the game and some of the mechanics before I started with the demo. “The city has been closed by the army because of the zombie outbreak and you are just one of the survivors trapped in the city. At the start of the game you just want to survive, but then you find some clues about what happened.”
“There are a couple of elements that are quite important for Dying Light in terms of gameplay mechanics, but I think the two most important elements are: the day-night cycle and the free-running movement.”
“The free-running we call the ‘Natural Movement System’ and it’s a system that allows you to traverse an environment with almost limitless freedom. Everything that you see in our game, that looks like you should be able to reach it or grab it and climb on top of it you can do it.”
Shown in the initial gameplay trailer, the free-running aspects of the game were akin to that of popular parkour game Mirror’s Edge and provides freedom of movement that we rarely see in titles. This was something that was very important for Techland though given the type of zombies they have in Dying Light.
“It is because our zombies are quite aggressive,” continued Tymon. “If someone organised a videogame zombie fight then our zombies will win against any other as ours are so mean, so dangerous. We had to improve the mobility of the main character to compensate; that is where the Natural Movement System comes in.”
“As for the day and night cycle, that is important because during the day it is more like a regular zombie game where you have slow-moving zombies whilst you’re agile, you’re fast, you can outmaneuver them and outsmart them. But during the night, they transform into these monstrosities that are really trying to get you. They are aggressive, they are mean and they think more intelligently – they co-operative.”
Not only that, but given the restricted lighting created by the game’s tremendous lighting system it’s far harder to see them. Something which I noticed come then end of my mission. If you thought you could just climb on top of a building and stay out of reach you’re out of luck as well as the nighttime zombies can climb just as well as you meaning that you are never safe when the lights go out.
Curious, I queried as to whether or not you’d be safe on the rooftops during the day. “Well…” began Tymon with a grin on his face, “there is one type of zombie that can do it during the day, but the majority of them cannot. However, at night, they can. That really changes the experience.”
By now I’d begun my game and upon completing the brief control tutorial I set about completing the mission. Different missions will start at different times of day so sometimes you’ll have longer to complete your objectives than others, but the length of a day will be a set length of time. Tymon mentioned that: “We’re still balancing it to see how long it should be. At the moment we’re at two hours for the full day cycle, but we’re still looking at trying to find the right period of time.”
As I mentioned already, the lighting engine behind Techland was superb and, running on a PC with comparable specs to the PlayStation 4, the game already looked fantastic. The detail of the surroundings, the quality of textures and animations, the way trees and vegetation react to the wind all breathe life into this deserted and derelict world. Then there’s the sheer number of characters on-screen at one point, there can easily be scores and scores of flesh-lusting zombies ready to take a chunk out of you given the chance.
My mission was to activate a series of traps before the dark hits. There are traps that need to be set-up and activated such an electrical fences, whilst others, such as walls covered in spikes do not. Both styles can be used to get you out of trouble when you’re being chased – especially at night so it’s useful to remember where they are.
“The game takes place three months after the apocalypse – the zombie outbreak – the survivors have had some ideas of how to fight the zombies. One of these ideas was to set traps which you can activate remotely. This means that you can be running away, lead them through the traps, activate it and then catch them in the trap.”
“The next trap is at the end of this street,” Tymon mentioned as I turned a corner a felt a mixture of awe and fear, “but as you can see there are a lot of zombies in the way. We can put hundreds of zombies onscreen. You can fight them but with that many that would be quite exhausting so it’s better to be smart about it and misdirect them with a firecracker. The firecracker makes a lot of noise and can be thrown to lead the zombies away.”
I threw one over the horde – a few of whom had begun to shuffle my way – and the crackle of the firecracker was loud enough to draw their attention towards it, thus away from me. Slightly wowed at the volume of foes I hid in a building a little too long as the noise subsided and the zombies began to disperse from their congregation. Now standing between myself and the next trap I distracted them with another firecracker before rigging a car engine.
The alarm of the car begins to sound, a louder commotion than that of the pyrotechnics. A crowd slowly gathers around before… Boom! The vehicle explodes sending various zombie body parts flying through the air. A rather effective trap it seems. In hindsight I should have left faster than I did as unsurprisingly the explosion drew some further afield zombies, one of which was a particular favourite of Tymon.
“Ah! This is my favourite enemy type, he has a gas canister on his back so when you hit the tank on his back it will eventually…” he pauses briefly as I smash a baseball bat onto the canister which whistles before it “… explodes.” The blast threw my character to the deck; the sound was muffled and my vision was blurred, it was a disorienting feeling and one that I knew I needed to shake off quickly. Thankfully, it’s effects only last a few seconds and I was up and fleeing the scene.
Jumping from building to building, activating traps, evading zombies I was making good progress. “Actually, I think you’re the first one that took this route – that’s great,” commented Tymon as he motioned from side-to-side. “It’s funny every time I watch someone play it I’m moving with the character.”
Mission complete – now it was time to head back to base. Unfortunately, the sun was setting and I knew time was running out. Home was a long way away though so I had to be quick. Tymon was almost taunting me now, knowing full well what was in store.
“Now you just have to go back to your base. Now it’s dark though the zombies might transform so if you see a red mist above their head it means they’re transforming. There are stealthy ways to go round the level, this bar here shows if the zombies can see you or not.”
As he said this the bar did indeed fill up, so wanting to avoid confrontation I snuck to the outskirts of a fenced off area and slowly crept round hoping to avoid what lay in wait.
“If they hear something noisy or have some aggressive against them then the bar fills up faster,” added Tymon. “Now you’re really still sneaking. Well played.”
I hit an alleyway overrun by zombies and within seconds they had me, a much-needed meal, in their sights. Stealth was now longer and option, I had to run as fast as I could. Fear gripped me as I lept across boxes, under fences, even managed to slide under ferocious clothesline attempt. I could see in the peripheries more and more zombies sprinting towards me; this was not good. Remembering where some of the traps were I set a mental route using the minimap as a guide but I was solely focused on nailing my movement – something that the Natural Movement System made nearly effortless. The lights of the base were accompanied by screams of “come on” from fellow survivors as I raced to safety. Thankfully, I made it, but my heart was pounding. It’s been a long time since I was genuinely terrified thanks to a videogame.
It all stemmed from this day and night mechanic within the game, a feature that sent me from rather confident to utterly petrified. Such a feature was key in the development of Dying Light and something that is a cornerstone of the game.
“The day and night cycle was at the top of our list for things that we want to see in Dead Island,” admitted Tymon. “It was one of the first choices and then we started to think about how we could develop it and the other gameplay mechanics. The answer was that if the zombies turn during the night and become more aggressive then it really changed the game which is what we wanted.”
“We really wanted something new. The feeling around the company was that we don’t just want to do just another Dead Island. We saw something that had the potential to turn the game upside down and decided to go with it.”
Unlike other survival games where you’re often quite cumbersome or restricted somehow, Techland are opening up the playing field and letting you go anywhere you want at quite a pace as well. I found that it even makes it scarier as you’re never quite sure if you’ve gone a good way or not, and if not then it was entirely your fault. Implementing such a system has been difficult though and is something that still needs a bit of tweaking.
“The thing is that actually getting the Natural Movement System right was one of the biggest challenges for the team. It took us more than a year to get it right and even now we’re not quite happy with it. People are liking it when they play it but we’re still not fully happy about it. We’re still perfecting it all the time and I’m confident that we’ll have it nailed by the time the game ships next year.”
“As you said, the traditional survival horror games are based on the player’s inability to move, to escape quickly, and we were thinking that we don’t want to do a traditional survival horror game. We asked, ‘what can we do to make it different? How would the game look it we sped it up?’ We found that we had to improve the mobility of the main character; the Natural Movement System is the answer to that problem.”
“I made it, but my heart was pounding. It’s been a long time since I was genuinely terrified thanks to a videogame.”
As a result there is two distinct styles of play. During the day I felt as though I could navigate around a few obstacles and get to where I wanted with relative ease; if I encountered a zombie I could either kill them or knock them down. Whereas at night I just wanted to run away from everything.
“I think you were one of the first that really… when people first start playing it they play it like Dead Island, they see a zombie and they want to kill it. You can do it [in Dying Light] and we want to give you the option that if you really want to do it you can and get fun out of it, but we wanted to create something that really plays different. So you were one of the first that really got it and played it a different way. I’m quite impressed, but yeah it’s about have the two distinct playing opportunities. We always want to give players more and I think players want huge experiences and something new with zombies. There have been a lot of zombie games at this point so we really had to think of something original.”
What’s particularly interesting is how it seems to also blend the two aspects of being quite linear with regards to a story and mission objectives, but to then throw you into an open world that lets you decide how to get there. Plot and story elements are something that Tymon agreed were important and something that they’re spending a lot of time on.
“I think they are nearly equal. Though if you asked what was more important for our game director he prefers gameplay more, but then he has guys like me who prefer story more. This helps us balance each other. However, you could have the best story but if the game doesn’t play right then really no one will experience that story. Gameplay is the most important thing for us but story is closely behind.”
“We bumped our writers team two-fold since the release of Dead Island so we’re quite confident that we can really create a story that’s engaging, interesting and that people will like. I really would like to reach that point in promoting the game that we can talk about our story. I think it has that unique Techland feel to it but the nature is very interesting. Many people will be surprised by it; it’s not your regular zombie story, that I’m sure off.”
Aside from playing the game on your own, there’s drop-in-drop-out four-player co-op which completely chances the dynamic of the game. You can be doing different things in different parts of the map if you wish or team up and complete missions together. “There is plenty of teamwork stuff if you play together,” added Tymon. “One of you can draw the zombies from a location you need to go, whilst the other guys do the objective there.”
Then there’s ‘Be A Zombie’ mode that allows you to play as a zombie in other people’s games – if they want you to. Experience points help you level up your zombie to be stronger and more agile as you aim to become the ultimate zombie. This in turn also changes how those playing in single player or co-op will act as you’ll know there’s a human player as a zombie somewhere in your world.
“You won’t see him at first though,” Tymon clarified “It really adds to the tension. Once you’ve been playing for a couple of hours with the AI zombies you might learn certain behaviours, but when you know there’s a human zombie in the game he might surprise you.”
Developing for multiple generations was also something that Techland found challenging, but have ensured to keep the same feature set across both the Xbox 360/PlayStation 3 build and the Xbox One/PlayStation 4/PC one. The next-generation versions will obviously look better but will also include some specific features such as Kinect voice recognition or the DualShock 4’s lightbar mimicking your flashlight at night.
As I mentioned at the start Tymon was confident with the team’s latest title and it’s not hard to see why.
“The thing is, I’m really sure of it,” he added. “I’m confident in saying that Dying Light is not just another zombie game. If you’re tired of zombies as they are then you really should try this one because it really opens up your mind as to how zombie game can be.”
“I also think that the Natural Movement System is something that will influence not only the zombie genre but FPS games in general. It really opens up the first-person perspective. We have it with our playtesters, they play our game for a few days and then they go to Call of Duty, Battlefield, whatever, and they feel that they are limited. They’re coming back to us and telling us that we ruined this or that game for them because they want to be able to go anywhere but they can’t.”
Concluding our talk I asked Tymon what his favourite feature was and unsurprisingly he said the day and night cycle.
“It’s because of the intensity of the night experience. What we have here is four levels of intensity of the chase. In the demo we only have the first level, it’ll get harder; the zombies will multiply, they’ll become more intelligent, more aggressive, and there’ll be more powerful zombies as well. It’s a little similar to the Grand Theft Auto star system, when you get more stars you get extra units, better units chasing you. And, the thing is on the second level, or the third level, and then on the fourth level you feel that rush of fear. You’re really sitting at the edge of your seat and you’re really running for your life. I think that feeling is what I like the most about Dying Light and what excites me the most.”
Dying Light really impressed. My anticipation has skyrocketed following my hands-on and chat with Tymon and, with the greatest of respect to Techland, was remarkably polished already at this early stage for one of their games. It’s shaping up to be a great title, especially for the next-gen consoles and it’s release next year cannot come soon enough. I just hope that it brings sufficient depth to a fantastic array of features.
The excitement towards a pre-built, console-like PC continues to bemuse me. With PC gaming as prevalent as ever (maybe) and components becoming smaller and quieter, the technicalities of a custom-built PC box for the living room seems destined to happen in a big way sometime soon. With Valve developing the ‘Big Picture’ mode for their Steam platform it allowed for a gamepad-controlled layout similar to current consoles on a TV, providing you have a cable long enough to reach from wherever your computer is of course.
Being able to play their PC games in their living room with a controller is something that I know many crave for, but I still fail to understand the appeal. Some of PC gaming’s strong points are its accessibility (as a lot of people have computers anyway) and the cheaper or bargain price of titles – the latter of which could easily be offset by the greater initial outlay in order to purchase a good gaming rig. Being able to upgrade as and when you want – within technical reason of course – is another but this is one that would be negated with a pre-built box. It’s an argument that I intend to delve deeper into in the future, especially if events unfold this week as predicted.
Nevertheless, migrating the PC experience away from the desk and onto the couch is something that Valve seem set on doing and following their reveal of SteamOS it’s clear which direction they’re heading.
“As we’ve been working on bringing Steam to the living room,” reads the official site, “we’ve come to the conclusion that the environment best suited to delivering value to customers is an operating system built around Steam itself.”
“SteamOS combines the rock-solid architecture of Linux with a gaming experience built for the big screen. It will be available soon as a free stand-alone operating system for living room machines.”
As a standalone software, it’ll require developers to make StreamOS specific titles (likely based off of Linux versions – but you’ll be able to stream Windows and Mac games over your network from another machine as well. This sets up the operating system for both a dedicated device and a streaming one, of which the latter I can see some appeal towards.
Aware that just games isn’t enough any more SteamOS will also deal with music, TV and movies and ties in nicely with Steam’s newly announced family sharing options. The importance and usefulness of SteamOS will ultimately come down to the two other announcements that Valve have set for this week, as if one is some sort of long-expected SteamBox then the future of the gaming space became somewhat varied.
As it stands, SteamOS is potentially a very useful product for a very small amount of users. How it works and looks will be key and given the underwhelming Windows 8 it could become a powerful force in the PC gaming space. However, all of that depends on what it would run on and, hopefully, that is something we will learn of tomorrow.
Deep Down, Capcom’s new IP announced during the PlayStation 4 reveal, has been confirmed as a PlayStation 4 exclusive.
The game’s producer, Yoshinori Ono, took to the stage during Sony’s Tokyo Game Show conference to announced a few details on the next-generation RPG.
Currently dateless, Deep Down will be set in New York 2094 – despite being a game that uses spears and swords, as the main character will be able to access different memories within an environment; perhaps leading to something similar to the Animus from Assassin’s Creed.
As for gameplay, both enemies and maps are procedurally generated, meaning no game will ever be the same. It also supports up to four player online co-op so you’ll be able to fight off dragons with your friends.
Whilst more information will be required to gain a better understanding of Deep Down, the initial viewing and details are promising and this could end up being a big title for the PlayStation 4.
TGS has, for the last few years at least, been somewhat of an underwhelming event for those outside of Japan, but really that’s to be expected. The majority of things announced and shown have either already been announced at the West’s E3 and Gamescom or is focused purely for the Asian market. That’s entirely the case this year after Sony announced PlayStation Vita TV.
A 6cm by 10cm (about the size of a 2.5″ HDD) device that will plug into your TV will allow you to watch video and network services and play your Vita and PSP games on the big screen. It’ll all be controlled via a DualShock 3 (so no touchscreen capabilities), and then the DualShock 4 once the PS4 releases, and feature a HDMI port to connect it to your TV but it will act as Sony’s equivalent to Apple TV.
With 1,300 titles available when it launches in Japan on November 14 it’ll be a great, and cheap – at just 9,945 yen (£64), device that will let you play games such as Minecraft, Velocity Ultra, Guacamelee, Persona 4 and more on your TV.
However, the best news is that it will also work as a companion device for the PlayStation 4, allowing you to play games in a second room without the need for another console. I’m guessing you can only play one game at a time but for households with multiple TVs it’ll be fantastic. Even I currently move my PS3 from screen to screen to either free up the main TV or to sit nearer my computer so to be able to have a tiny second device constantly plugged in would be amazing.
PS Vita TV will allow your TV to “evolve” with digital content, but for now is just for Japan. Shuhei Yoshida, President of Sony’s Worldwide Studios, confirmed that today’s announcement was just for Japan, but hopefully it’ll be coming our way soon.
Hopefully it will as the potential for the PS Vita TV (though I wish it was just called PSTV) is huge. A cheap device that not only can act as a remote play streaming device for your PS3, PS Vita and PS4 but when Gaikai streaming launches it could act as a hub into a world of PS3 titles without the console. Throw in that it’s essentially a £64(ish) console to play Minecraft on and Sony are surely onto a winner.
Sony didn’t stop there though as they announce a new model of the PlayStation Vita. Sticking with the same internals as before, the new PCH-2000 series will be 15% lighter (at 219g) and 20% thinner (at just 15mm) than before. Perhaps the best news is 1GB of onboard memory meaning you won’t need a memory card for game saves and smaller downloads – with a 64GB card to go on sale in Japan on October 10.
If you like to take your Vita out and about with you then the boosted battery life will be a welcome upgrade (up an hour to six hours of gameplay), plus it’ll launch in a variety of colours: yellow, pink, white, gray, lime green and light blue.
Unfortunately, the Vita’s fantastic OLED screen is being replaced by an identically sized multi-touch capacitive type LCD screen, but I’m concerned as to whether or not this will dampen one of the handheld’s greatest assets.
“Thanks to the rapid progress of LCD technology in recent years, the new display provides users with the highest-level image quality, perfect for deep and immersive gaming experience that is at the core of PS Vita,” Sony said.
However, a Sony Computer Entertainment Europe spokesperson told Eurogamer: “We’ve not made any announcement about whether the 2000 series & Vita TV will be releasing in the UK / Europe.”
The refresh of console into slimmer forms is nothing new but for the Vita, which only release 18 months ago, does feel a little soon. That being said, if a new form and spangley new colours helps to sell units then I’m all for it.
Microsoft had the chance to finally get a point on the board following a dismal Xbox One reveal that subsequently features backtracking, re-thinking and vision changing. Whilst the majority of the American company’s U-turns have been positive, for both the console and the industry, their lack of forethought still concerns me. According to my sources they still languish behind the PlayStation 4 in terms of pre-orders but they’ve been steadily improving.
Deals such as the free digital version of FIFA 14 for those that pre-ordered the next-generation console turned out to be a little misleading given that it’s both just for Day One pre-orders and “whilst stocks last”. Nevertheless, Microsoft’s continuation to both market and explain the Xbox One poorly could be dampened by a release prior to the PlayStation 4 – which is set for an American release on November 15 and a EU one on November 29.
A release of November 22 worldwide doesn’t really do that however: putting the US release a week after the PlayStation 4 and a week prior to Sony’s EU release. Given the restricted EU release for the Xbox One a week advantage is unlikely something Microsoft could capatilise on, whilst the week gap in America could be an issue. A simultaneous worldwide launch is a positive move from Microsoft, whose console has been receiving some flak for the launch issues it will have outside of America. Those that are undecided are unlikely to be swayed into picking up the more expensive console for a four-day head-start and create a very expensive week for those intending on buying both.
Although both consoles are likely to sell-out at launch, making the release dates potentially irrelevant, this was a chance for Microsoft to gain a much-needed victory over Sony ahead of their next-generation releases and it’s one they’ve missed. Thankfully we now know when both the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 are releasing at least, so you can prepare your wallet for the substantial pounding it’ll be taking.
For whatever the modern-day equivalent of “don’t adjust your aerials” is, it’s what I’d be saying right now. Nintendo has announced a new handheld, the 2DS.
That’s no typo, that’s two-dee-ess. In a baffling turn of events Nintendo has effectively conceded that the 3D technology of the hugely popular 3DS is dead in the water by announcing a console that will play all 3DS and DS games but just in 2D.
Class as part of the 3DS family of consoles (alongside the original and the XL) the 2DS is aimed as an affordable entry point into 3DS gaming – but without the 3D that is. If the market with a 3DS and a DS wasn’t already confusing enough (so much so that Nintendo had to clarify the 3DS handheld in their adverts) introducing the 2DS, a console that’s not a DS but is indeed a 3DS but only plays 2D, will be a minefield.
The idea of an affordable 3DS (a handheld that’s not particularly expensive in the first place) isn’t a bad idea, until you see it.
There are no hinges on the console, meaning it looks like a huge plastic Fisher Price toy, which will end up getting awfully grubby screens. However, if the idea of an ugly 3DS that doesn’t fold, nor feature any of the 3D functionality, but will save you $50 in the US then you can get your hands on one come October 12 – the day that Pokemon X & Y releases. No UK pricing was given, but expect around £30 to be saved over the 3DS.
Sony’s indie push for the PlayStation 4, and the Vita, has been aggressive and wonderful. So the news of a plethroa of new titles announced at Gamescom is most welcome.
First up there’s platformer Rogue Legacy from Cellar Door Games which launched in June this year, which will see it’s console debut next year as it launches on PlayStation 4 and Vita. Then there’s Binding of Isaac: Rebirth from Edmund McMillen and Florian Himsl on both platforms in 2014; N++ on PS4 this winter; Mike Bithell’s Volume will launch a month before its PC and Mac counterpart next year; Guns of Icarus, a port of the PC airship shooter, will make its console debut on the next-gen system; whilst Wasteland Kings and Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number will launch on PlayStation 4 and Vita next year.
It’s one hell of a collection and just added to an already impressive line-up.