Take 5: JDR's Gaming Conclusions - 27/09/19
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: All aboard the climate emergency train! Next stop: Cynicsville
It won’t have escaped many people’s attention that the planet is in a pickle. We’re going to assume you’re a smart person who believes the science over the vested interest of corporations and ignorant world leaders — as such, you’re going to want to do everything you can to help save Earth. Right? Right.
But would that be at the cost of your gaming time? Won’t the mass production of equipment for frivolous pastimes such as playing games be at odds with your ethical and moral sensibilities? Sure, you don’t want the planet to heat up to the point where the oceans have swallowed up vast swathes of habitable land, but at the same time you need to get your fix of the next Gears of War, yeah?
Fear not, the benevolent deities at some of the biggest gaming houses on our (burning) planet have a plan. Microsoft, Sony, Google and more have signed up to a UN initiative to help reduce carbon emissions. Microsoft plans to produce 825,000 carbon neutral Xbox devices. Sony will be adding a low-power function to its next PlayStation. Google will be prompting you in certain games to go green, as well as producing a guide to helping game developers to produce games in a more environmentally friendly manner.
A cynic may suggest that if these companies were truly interested in helping to save the planet, offsetting the carbon cost of a fraction of the consoles made or marginally reducing the energy being used feels like little more than lip service. A cynic would note how interesting it is that Google (Stadia), Microsoft (Xbox) and Sony (PlayStation) all have new products or new iterations of their products on the horizon. A cynic would comment that it’s almost like taking part in this initiative had the side effect of promoting their new hardware. Coincidence? A cynic wouldn’t think so.
In normal circumstances, “doing something is better than doing nothing” might suffice, but when you have two billion-dollar companies and a trillion-dollar company involved, that something needs to be a lot, lot more.
Conclusion Two: Nobody will be playing The Last of Us Part II alone
“You think I’d let you do this on your own?”
And so we now know that Ellie is joined in this narrative sequel by Joel, the protagonist of the first game. We’d wondered since the first trailer but now we know. Of course he’s in it, and if Naughty Dog and Sony have told us this now, then get ready for even bigger surprises in the game.
What he says though, the above quote, is something any PS4-owning gamer need not worry about. Upon release on February 21st, 2020 it’s likely that everyone will get this game, or want this game, or devour media about this game. It’s The Last of Us Part II for goodness’ sake. The seven-years-in-waiting sequel to something regarded as the finest exponent of mature gaming the world has ever seen; something terribly nuanced and coloured in with multiple shades of grey. That would be enough but then we had the mini follow-up in Left Behind, which was frankly marvellous and demonstrated in its short running time what Naughty Dog can do once more, but also how it’s up to move goalposts and do different things.
This game will be the swansong to the generation, much as its predecessor was to the PS3. Neil Druckmann is again Creative Director and Lead Writer and he’s been fully focussed on this since finishing Drake’s arc with Uncharted 4. Nobody will be playing this alone because it will be arguably the finest game ever made. Hyperbole? No. The form of this group is such that given the series and what little we’ve seen so far, it’s clear to me that this is the event, and will prove a fine way to close the PS4’s life.
Conclusion Three: Double good news for Death Stranding fans
We’re six weeks away from Death Stranding’s release, and Hideo Kojima and the team at Kojima Productions had cause to celebrate this week when the game went gold. It’s done, locked in, ready to roll out on November 8th. How much crunch this involved is unclear, and this might come to light once the game hits the shelves. But for now, the team appear to be happy it’s done and dusted (barring any required Day One patch, of course).
In more good news, if you were concerned that the multiplayer aspect would mean you need a PS Plus subscription, fear not. Those of you with good eyesight may have spotted that the limited edition Death Stranding PS4 artwork at Game included a little yellow sticker.
The full text reads:
“Paid-for Playstation plus subscription required for online multiplayer. Sold separately. Death Stranding does not require PlayStation Plus subscription.”
This makes sense, since as far as we know there isn’t PVP or “traditional” co-op in the game, other than building structures and bridges which other players can then interact with, or summoning players to give you items. Glitched has a decent rundown of the multiplayer aspects from the gameplay we’ve seen so far, but suffice to say Death Stranding doesn’t appear to require you to fork out for PS Plus if you don’t currently have it.
Conclusion Four: The Switch changed the game for Nintendo
The Switch is the latest Nintendo hardware to disrupt the gaming world and delight millions of gamers who’ve experienced, and in most cases bought, the console. It’s a brilliant device with fabulous software and it can be used interchangeably at home or out and about. After the Wii U woes this was needed, and has done for Nintendo what the Wii did before it, and countless other machines before that.
And yet, Nintendo’s stock dropped on the news that the Lite iteration of the Switch sold 114,000 units through its first three days on sale. Famitsu reported the number to be closer to 168,000 but still, the share price of Nintendo went down. That’s what markets do when expectations aren’t met but here’s the kicker: in the first three days of the original Switch’s sales, only 62,000 units were sold — thanks again to Daniel Ahmad for the information.
Surely, if the wildly successful console was outperformed by its little brother by a factor of nearly three, it’s a success, right? In absolute terms hell yes, but in the context of where Nintendo is at today, versus life before the Switch? Not at all.
Whatever your take on it there’s one thing which we all can agree on — Iwata-san’s strategy and plan is being executed as well as he could have hoped, I suspect, and Nintendo is proving that plan to be masterful.
Conclusion Five: Fallout 76 now offers a fully authentic wasteland experience
Fallout 76 is the gift that keeps on giving, at least in terms of hilarious mistakes. As everyone knows, the wasteland is a dangerous place replete with radiation, mutation and disease. And when it comes to providing collectors with expensive limited edition items to adorn their shelf, it seems that Bethesda has taken this last point literally.
Not content with churning out cheap nylon bags in their Power Armor Edition of the game in place of, well, slightly more expensive bags, it appears that the U.S. GameStop exclusive T-51b Power Armour helmet (with a retail price of $150 / £120) has a more concerning issue. The US Consumer Product Safety Commission has issued a recall notice on 20,000 instances of this helmet because of mould.
The full wording of the recall notice states:
Mold can be present on the fabric insert inside the helmet, posing a risk of respiratory or other infections in individuals with compromised immune systems, damaged lungs or an allergy to mold.
Essentially, if you were suckered into buying one of these helmets and don’t fancy ending up riddled with disease — even if you’re healthy and don’t have a mould allergy, we suggest getting down to Gamestop ASAP and getting a refund. The recall notice details can be found here.
If you’re into immersive art, this could be seen as a bold move by Bethesda who has attempted to go all-in by bringing the realistic feel of an apocalyptic setting direct to your body. Alternatively, it might just be another case of a publisher trying to sell cheap — and now potentially dangerous — cash-in tat to gullible consumers. We’ll let you decide.
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