5 Conclusions - 11/05/18

May 11, 2018
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A regular look at gaming-related stories from the past week or so whereby conclusions are drawn from anything and everything. These may be incredibly well reasoned based on events from the week. Alternatively, they may be highly speculative, drawn from very little evidence. More likely, they will be somewhere in between.

Conclusion One: Nintendo’s online service is announced — and you can hear a pin drop

More than one year after launching the Switch Nintendo has announced their plans for an online service. It would suffice to say just a single word: underwhelming. However, we will go into a little more detail regardless.

From September 2018 you can pay to enable the Switch online service in periods of one month, three months or one year, for yourself or for the family. One year’s subscription is a reasonable price, costing just £17.99. But for this you get to play games online, backup your saves to the cloud and gain access to a library of NES games. That’s it.

Yes, Sony and Microsoft have paid-for online services and yes this brings Nintendo inline with those. But the whole thing still feels like it wasn’t worth the wait, especially as right now you can play games online for free. With titles such as Mario Kart 8 and Splatoon 2, and future games like Dark Souls Remastered on their way, this is really essential to a large number of gamers. It’s a kick in the teeth though — even though we knew the free service wouldn’t last. The bonus, the NES games, is something which we got two generations ago when we all wowed at the Virtual Console. Now with the virtual console and the retro NES Mini, is this really going to sell the online package?

Overall, this announcement — which gamers have been anticipating for years — managed to make everyone shrug their shoulders and carry on regardless. After a year or so of brilliance across the board, Nintendo here has made its first misstep. Sure, they’ll sell subs by the truckload, but it hasn’t done anything from a boosting point of view now, has it?

Conclusion Two: Anyone can win in Fortnite now

Taking advantage of the Avengers: Infinity War box office destruction, Fortnite introduced Thanos to players this week. In a limited time mashup, once a game has started the Infinity gauntlet drops to the ground and the first person to equip it becomes Thanos.

This is pretty cool. It’s a nice piece of relevant content that gets folks interested, reignites the fire in others, and generally gets a lot of press in the news cycle, purely because Thanos is the man right now.

 

The only problem I can see is that Thanos with the Infinity Gauntlet is frickin’ invincible, isn’t he? So it’s a good job Epic Games has already nerfed his powers, right? Hell no, let the person who grabs the gauntlet click their fingers and win. The whole point of Thanos is to be undefeatable, isn’t it?


Conclusion Three: E3 is going Cyberpunk in 2018

If you haven’t played The Witcher 3, go and do that NOW. Come back in a hundred hours or so and be glad I’ve changed your life for the better. It’s an incredible game, full of brilliance from start to end. It’s safe to say the developers, CD Projekt RED, are folks we have been following and will continue to follow.

Their next game is expected to be Cyberpunk 2077, a Witcher-like RPG set in a futuristic cyberpunk world. This obviously sounds amazing. Long suspected to be presented at E3, a new rumour suggests the media — and perhaps others — will be treated to an hour-long presentation. Francesco Fossetti, an Italian journalist writing for everyeye.it, has been invited to such an event as part of E3 according to the following post he made on Facebook:

“Ho appena preso un appuntamento per l'E3 con CD Project RED. Non so per cosa sia ma sarà una cosa approfondita, perché la presentazione durerà un'oretta.
Ecco: lo sentite quel brivido lì che corre lungo la schiena?”

Basically, he's telling us that he has been invited to a one-hour session from CD Projekt RED. Get ready to see something amazing.


Conclusion Four: PC gaming on your phone

As long as you have a PC and iOS or Android-enabled device connected to your wi-fi, you will soon be able to play your library of Steam games on your TV or phone without requiring anything other than a new iOS or Android (beta) app. This could be a game-changer, no?

Whether it does or not remains to be seen, but being able to play your PC games on something else is quite a change in technology and may well impact what Apple and Google themselves are doing, as well as making Sony et al take a look at the console market and its competition, given PC games on TVs without the need for a Steam machine or anything like that could pose quite the business challenge.

For those of us who these days prefer to lounge around and game rather than affixed to a desk with keyboard and mouse will look at this fondly and hope we can define Civilization (VI) rather than restrict ourselves to Hatoful Boyfriend. Maybe it’s the precursor to that Gordon Freeman, Half-Life 3 announcement?

Conclusion Five: The Neo Geo mini sucks

In the 1990s every gamer looked agog with wonder and desire at SNK’s NEOGEO— a console which was basically an arcade machine in people’s homes, for an extreme price. Back then arcade machines were the benchmark and folk longed for that experience. A NEOGEO, without looking, was two–hundred and something pounds. It was unaffordable for most, although I did know a chap who was determined to buy one (I never saw success, mind).

So it was with great excitement and no small amount of curiosity that I saw the rumours of a NEOGEO mini growing. Now I realise I needn’t have bothered after it’s been announced officially. It’s a monstrosity. An all in one cabinet which fits in the palm of your hand according to the announcement. This is of course pointless as it houses a screen and joystick plus buttons meaning you need two hands to play it, normally. Yes, it houses the screen, but unlike every other retro gaming machine out there this doesn’t give you a cutesy replica which you can play in a modern and simplistic way. No, it makes you play on the tiny 3.5 inch screen.

Wow. The product designers here are banking on a whole new kind of rose-tinted glasses, aren’t they? Let us know if you actually want one. I don’t.

Any initial excitement is washed away within the first hour or two, giving way to repetition, boredom and often complete frustration. Extinction had great potential but sadly comes up way short.
Luciano Howard

I've been gaming for 30+ years on the Commodore VIC-20 to the Nintendo Switch and most things in-between. I enjoy all kinds of games but if I had to pick a couple right now, I'd say I adore Mario and love Dark Souls. I can talk about either ad infinitum...