5 Conclusions - 20/07/18

July 20, 2018

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: A God of War sequel is happening

At least, that’s the assumption we’re making after seeing this job listing at Santa Monica Studio. Sony’s prized development house is looking for a character concept artist who can “design a rich cast of characters and creatures steeped in story, mythology, mixed with strong historical detail and influences.”

If that doesn’t sound like the recipe for a second entry in the rebooted God of War franchise, we’re not sure what is.  We absolutely loved the first game when it released this year, though while the frosty locations in the Nine Realms hosted a variety of interesting enemies to bury our axe in, a few more well-known gods to fight would certainly not have gone amiss.

Hopefully there will be an announcement later this year to get us all excited about more Norse antics.

Conclusion Two: Always check your code

Aliens: Colonial Marines was released in 2013 after a series of bold claims by Gearbox that it would not only revitalise the franchise, but that the story was even better than that of Alien 3, a film mired in production issues. However, much like the film, the end product was widely ridiculed — not least for its awful AI which had the Xenomorphs walking into walls, cowering behind crates, and generally behaving erratically.

It seems that, for this last issue at least, there’s a rather simple reason behind the stupid alien behaviour. One intrepid modder did some digging and within an ini file which ships with the game, a single typo in a line of code was found to be the cause of all manner of alien issues.

The original ini file (which any player who owns the PC version of can modify in My Documents\My Games\Aliens Colonial Marines\PecanGame\Config\PecanEngine.ini) contains this line of code:

ClassRemapping=PecanGame.PecanSeqAct_AttachXenoToTether -> PecanGame.PecanSeqAct_AttachPawnToTeather

The misspelt “tether” refers to the zone in which an alien spawns in game, where it patrols, where it can move to, and how it can manoeuvre to attack you. In its shipped state, that extra “a” in the code broke this functionality completely, which explains why the alien AI was so damn awful. 

By changing the line to the following, you can now enjoy being attacked by Xenomorphs as originally conceived:

ClassRemapping=PecanGame.PecanSeqAct_AttachXenoToTether -> PecanGame.PecanSeqAct_AttachPawnToTether

Of course, this doesn’t fix the awful graphics which looked nothing like the pre-release promos, laughable story, poor collision detection, and lack of continuity with the franchise… but at least it plays a little better now. Note to developers: you cannot spend enough on good QA.

Conclusion Three: Bowser Jr. was taking performance-enhancing drugs

If you’ve played Mario Tennis Aces (and it’s certainly worth a look), you’ll more than likely have  experienced frustration when playing against a small spiny Koopa. Bowser’s son is a demon on the court, pulling out full court trick shots and returns which make Nadal look like a high school wannabe.

Yet this hasn’t gone unnoticed by Nintendo, who released a patch on Thursday which significantly nerfed Bowser Jr.’s unfair advantage and brought him on a par with the majority of the roster. Alongside this change are general improvements to trick shots — namely, making them less easy to spam your opponent with by increasing the amount of energy they use and narrowing the space available to launch them.

All told, Mario’s newest tennis escapade should see you gnashing your teeth far less, especially when playing the tennis equivalent of Lance Armstrong on the field.  

Conclusion Four: Gravity impacts servers, too

Gravity Rush 2, the PlayStation 4-bound sequel to the PS Vita original is now offline forever. Whilst the game doesn’t rely on online to actually function, a lot of cool functionality is now gone to current and future gamers.

Servers switching off permanently is commonplace but not normally so soon after release, and whilst the game is so active, as gravityrushcentral.com shows us. However, Sony is getting more trigger-happy in terms of switching off the online functionality of games it publishes, something which is a little off when gamers who play online fund all that infrastructure with their PS Plus subscriptions.

It doesn’t make sense, and it’s not fair. As an example, Demon’s Souls’ servers shutdown this year in February, but the game had been around since 2009. This kind of speed between release and servers off is a bad precedent, and makes you wonder how much longer Sony games with online functionality (pretty much all of them) can be trusted, quite frankly. Is this an area where Microsoft can make hay and turn into a known advantage for the next generation of hardware? Sony need to make sure they do not lose their focus if they want to replicate the PS4 generation and not the PS3 one…

Conclusion Five: There won't be a Fallout 5

It’s a bold statement. Are we really not going to see a Fallout 5? Not soon, for sure. Probably not ever. I mean, look at Bethesda’s release schedule. It’s a lot of Skyrim ports and some work on multiplayer games and Starfield. Not even the next Elder Scrolls is any time soon, but that at least we have seen announced. Not an actual Fallout sequel.

In part, this is in jest. But Bethesda is going the way of Valve to some extent. It’s massive, and its games are massive. Skyrim is literally being ported to everything, to the point that they are taking the mickey out of themselves for it. With this strategy being so successful, then the desire to make the aforementioned titles as big as they are, will we ever get Fallout? We certainly won’t soon if Todd Howard is to be believed. You see, despite Fallout: New Vegas being amazing, he doesn’t think Bethesda will ask anyone else to do a Fallout game. Which is odd, given it worked so bloody well and meant we got a new title so soon after Fallout 3. Then we waited ages for the fourth installment, and now? Who knows.

My guess is that we’ll just see various Elder Scrolls titles and ports, plus anything which is different but riffing off of that series, and Fallout, but which is seen to make more money — like multiplayer titles. With that, we’ll not get the next single-player game and eventually everyone will forget about Fallout until Bethesda sells the license to someone else, much like they acquired it in the first place.

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Rob Kershaw

I've been gaming since the days of the Amstrad. Huge RPG fan. Planescape: Torment tops my list, but if a game tells a good story, I'm interested. Absolutely not a fanboy of any specific console or PC - the proof is in the gaming pudding. Also, I like cake.