Take 5: JDR's Gaming Conclusions - 19/04/19

April 19, 2019

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: Amy Hennig was right all along

You know when Amy Hennig was working on the tentatively titled Ragtag, a Star Wars game which got cancelled because, among other reasons, it was a single-player experience and single-player games didn’t make money? (Yes, they do). And it didn’t have loot boxes in, because loot boxes were great and gamers love microtransactions? (No, they aren’t and no we don’t).

Well, this happened:

It’s great that EA is finally admitting that the people who know the most about video games are the people who actually make them, but perhaps it could have realised this two years ago when it took a steaming dump on a celebrated game developer and canned her project. That they are now trumpeting as selling points for Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order some of the very same reasons which meant Ragtag never made it out of the door is frankly incredible, but sadly, not something that comes as a shock. "Accept the past" indeed. You can read Amy’s thoughts on the development at Eurogamer.

Conclusion Two: Console War 9: I Know What You Did Last Console War

All this has happened before, and it will happen again. The next console war kicked off properly this week after Sony’s PS5 announcement, but the only really big surprise is how familiar it all feels.

There’s the usual buzzword-filled trumpeting (ray tracing joins the likes of transistors, connected gaming and Mode 7 in the history of technological minutiae bumped up to elite status for the sake of marketing). And sure, an SSD drive will be great, but SSD drives have been on the mainstream market for over a decade and cost has been the most prohibitive factor in shipping them commercially in consoles. Backwards compatibility is expected by gamers so that wasn’t a huge surprise and 8K is just the new 4K - i.e. accessible only to those with a megaton of cash to fork out on a TV.

Microsoft has responded, chucking out its discless Xbox for £199 next month and offering a combined Xbox Live and Game Pass in the form of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate for $14.99 a month. Oh, and insiders believe that the new Xbox (codenamed Anaconda) will be even more powerful than the PS5. Nintendo has a couple more Switch variants coming in the summer and… well, that’s where we are. The huge revelations expected for the Generation 9 are nowhere to be seen yet. There was talk about the PS4 and Xbox One being the last consoles needing physical media, or even existing as a physical entity at all. In truth, the Switch is the last console to truly try anything new. Otherwise it’s iteration-as-usual: more power, faster loading times, better graphics. That’s great and all, but right now it feels like everyone is playing it a little too safe.

Conclusion Three: This is the game you are looking for

Back in the world of Star Wars, some potentially exciting news for fans of Knights of the Old Republic (and if you're a gamer who is into Star Wars, then that's pretty much everyone). MTV talked to Lucasfilm president and famed producer Kathleen Kennedy about the upcoming Episode IX, but managed to squeeze in a question about the future of KOTOR.

The answer was vague but promising: "You know, we talk about [Knights of the Old Republic] all the time. Yes, we are developing something to look at. Right now, I have no idea where things might fall, but we have to be careful that there is a cadence to Star Wars that doesn't start to feel like too much."

The original KOTOR from BioWare was a smash hit back in 2003, and the sequel released by Obsidian a year later was also critically acclaimed. Since then, an MMO in the form of The Old Republic has been the only RPG to revisit the setting. Single-player RPG fans have been left desperately waiting for an update on their beloved franchise. While this snippet from Lucasfilm is far from solid (the language suggests it's barely at the pitch stage), and since it doesn't even mention whether the series relates to the game or film, the community appetite for a return to KOTOR is strong. Hopefully once the Skywalker saga comes to an end, we'll hear further positive news.

Conclusion Four: Metro Exodus is still the best-looking game of this generation

Instagrammer Dylan Furst was recently sent out to Chernobyl to take some photos, ostensibly promoting a series of new NVIDIA gaming laptops with ray tracing technology (look, it’s here to stay, accept it and move on).

But in doing so, he managed to capture some beautiful comparisons between real life and in-game imagery.

In fairness, the new tech does make the PS4's best-looking game even more breathtaking. Whether you can afford it is another matter entirely...

For a full demo of NVIDIA’s RTX technology, take a look here. And if you are wondering whether Metro Exodus is worth picking up or if it’s just a very pretty game, well, we also have the answer to that.

Conclusion Five: There’s no-one quite like Reggie

He may have moved on from Nintendo to kick ass in the retirement sphere, but Reggie Fils-Aimé is still something of a presence. His new Twitter account has given us a glimpse into the crazy office he used to inhabit which appears to mostly be a store of gaming paraphernalia.

No, really. Look at his office.

Reggie tried — and mostly succeeded — to cultivate something of a counterculture persona to Nintendo’s buttoned-down approach to the industry. Now that he’s gone, there’s a sizeable hole to fill; Doug Bowser may have an appropriate surname, but will he be able to carry off something as hilarious as this?

Bye, Reggie.

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Outer Wilds is a meditative, slow, but ultimately rewarding sci-fi extravaganza that everyone looking for an adventure should play — but be prepared for some frustration and repetition.
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.