Weekend Whammy: What Are You Playing This Weekend?

By the luxurious beard of Thor’s angelic face, it’s the freaking weekend yet again, meaning that Christmas is now looming like Santa standing over the kid who is at the very tippy-top of the naughty list.

So this week I’ve started on Just Cause 4, the open-world playground of destruction that revels in such things as tethers that come with powerful balloons and jets so that you can launch a hapless deer into the sky or send a tank careening off a cliff. My instant takeaway is that they’ve massively improved on the woeful console performance of Just Cause 3, but it has come at the cost of graphics which are…er, kinda ugly at times. The gameplay, though, is a complete blast and as mad as ever, though once that initial novelty wears off the boring-ass mission structure begins to grate real quick. Keep an eye out for my inevitable rambling review.

I’ve also started working on my first Playstation VR review which is going to be of the newly released Rush, a game all about wingsuit racing. All you need to know at the moment is that it has almost made me face-plant the floor several times now, so that’s cool.

Meanwhile another upcoming review will be of Aground for the PC, a charming little side-scrolling game about crashing onto an island and making a home for yourself. There’s a lot of Terraria in it, and a bit of Minecraft and Reign and a bunch of others, but it does enough to make it stand out from those. So far my impressions are really good.

I’ve got to say getting review code in for games at the moment is really tricky. It seems the big publishers are really pushing pure numbers now and only handing out code to big sites, and my cynical side says to those that the publishers feel they can safely predict. Man, picking up these games for review is starting to eat into my meager bank account, but it’s totally worth it. I’m having a blast reviewing them, reading your comments and generally just seeing the reactions.

And its coming that time of the year again where I’m considering my Games of the Year. There’s going to be some super obvious choices, but a couple might surprise you. With that said, I still need to go and play God of War which is sitting on my shelf as we speak. I’ve been trying to find the time to get to it as well, but so far no luck. I’d feel bad if I didn’t play at least most of it in time for making the list, though.

The interesting news that caught my attention this week is the brewing war between Steam and the newly announced Epic game store from Epic Games. Earlier in the week Steam tried to make a fairly big announcement about changes to the way money is split between the developers/publisher and Valve. Currently the Steam store boasts the industry standard 70/30 split, which is to say that on each game sale the developer/publisher gets 70% and Valve take 30%. Valve’s announcement was the introduction of a slightly different system where selling large volumes of a game would decrease that 30% down to 25% and then to 20%, a system that would only help the biggest titles since the prequisites were $10-Million in sales and $50-million.

With Epic’s store launching by the end of this year it’s going to be fascinating to see whether the big publishers and developers are going to support it straight away because that extra 18% they’ll get over each copy sold on Steam could bring in a lot of extra cash, and of course for smaller companies it’s going to be such a better deal than they can get on Steam. Will companies perhaps start heavily advertising the fact that their titles are available on Epic’s store in a bid to get more people to purchase it their?

Of course, the problem is whether consumers will get on board. It’s possible that we might see slightly cheaper game prices on the Epic store since companies can afford to be a little more generous, but I imagine a lot of people aren’t going to be aware of all this behind the scenes stuff and will view the Epic store as just yet another piece of software to install, whereas with Steam they already have accounts, probably have had that account for a long time and have built a big library of games. If the public don’t see a reason to swap over then the venture will fail, so I think it’s going to be up to the big publishers and developers to heavily support the Epic store and perhaps even consider not launching on Steam at all to bring customers over and perhaps force Steam and other digital stores into reconsidering their own pricing structure in order to compete.

As for the smaller indie companies I definitely think they’d want to see the Epic store take off, so perhaps we’ll see some PC titles be exclusive to the Epic store, or indeed maybe Epic themselves will try to buy some exclusivity to get their experiment going.

I’d be remiss not to mention that the new Avengers trailer dropped this week, giving us all a glimpse into how the final(?) fight with Thanos is going to go down. I thought the trailer wasn’t superb but it was still solidly done and I’m nice and hyped, so it did its job.

Alright folks, that’s all for me today. What awesome things will you be playing, reading, watching, fondling or enjoying this weekend?


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