Microsoft Pull A Power Move
Welcome back to the Weekend Whammy! As always and forever, I’m the idiot running this little Internet asylum and the Weekend Whammy is where I chat about…er, anything, really. But this week it’s very much gaming related stuff because loads of exciting things have happened. So lets jump into it, shall we?
I was going to talk exclusively about the PS5 in this week’s Weekend Whammy, but just as I began writing my thoughts on Sony’s event some bombshell news dropped: in a deal worth a staggering $7.5-billion, Microsoft has officially acquired Zenimax Media. That means Microsoft now own a swathe of I.Ps including the likes of Doom, The Elder Scrolls, Fallout, Dishonored, Starfield and Prey. In total the deal has netted Microsoft 8 developers, bringing Microsoft’s studio tally to twenty-four.
This brings up so many questions and possibilities. Will the next Elder Scrolls and DOOM games be exclusive to Xbox and PC? If so, Microsoft have made a huge move toward fixing their lack of exclusive games down the line. Can you imagine if the next Elder Scrolls is an Xbox and PC exclusive? That’s a big deal. Or could we see Microsoft make an even bolder play and opt to let Zenimax operate fairly independently, including continuing to publish games on Playstation and the Nintendo Switch? So far the word from Microsoft is that they’ll examine games on a case by case basis.
Whatever happens, Microsoft have already confirmed that they intend on bringing their newfound catalogue of titles to Games Pass, buffing the already strong service with a host of awesome stuff. And they also confirmed new games coming from their newly acquired studios will be arrive on Games Pass as soon as they launch. It’s possible that expanding Games Pass was the most important part of this acquisition in Microsoft’s eyes.
It’s worth noting that games like Deathloop are still coming to Playstation and will still have their Playstation timed exclusivity.
More importantly, can we get Doomguy (The Slayer) vs Master Chief, please? I need that in my life. OOOOOOOOOO! And now that Microsoft have both Obsidian and access to the Fallout IP, can we get Fallout: New Vegas 2?
Right, let’s get to the other big news which by now I’m sure you already know: The PS5 will launch on November 12th in XXXXXXXXXXXX and then November 19th for everybody else. The full-fat PS5 will cost £450, but if you fancy ditching discs and going digital then you can get a discless PS5 for £350. I’m curious about this because there’s no way a 4K disc drive is costing Sony £100 per console, so are they willingly taking a big loss on the digital console? It could be worth it, because with a digital console people are buying directly from the Playstation store and that means Sony get a bigger profit on their software.
Now, obviously, Sony didn’t surprise us with a less powerful version of their console to compete with the Xbox Series S. However, I reckon £350 is a bloody brilliant price considering it’s exactly the same console in terms of CPU, GPU, RAM, SSD and other various acronyms and initialisms. Personally, I’ve gone with the full-bodied PS5 simply because games I don’t get in for review I’ll buy on disc, finish and then sell them on to recoup some of the cash which then goes into repeating the cycle. But considering in 2019 in the UK 80% of game sales were digital (and that number is higher this year) I’d imagine a lot of people will be happy to ditch the disc drive entirely. With that said, it seems if you do go for a digital only console there will be no way to carry over any games you currently own on disc.
With that out of the way, let’s talk about the conference itself, which was awesome, and everything that happened afterwards, which was less awesome.
Sony certainly started with a bang by revealing Final Fantasy 16, which was playing on a PC because it’s coming to both PC and PS5 in 2021. Bit if a strange move to kick off with a non-PS5 exclusive, but Final Fantasy is insanely popular and out of everything they showed it might have the most media pop.
I don’t play Final Fantasy, though, so for me the best game in the entire showcase was Spider-Man: Miles Morales. Since it’s more of a spin-off than a sequel the core of what was shown was very familiar, but Insomniac have managed to add some cool kinks to the formula. Miles was pulling off incredible aerial combos and had some fancy powers that Peter Parker doesn’t. And the Christmas setting should help make the whole game visually different from the original Marvel’s Spider-Man.
Things got interesting after the event, though, when Sony revealed that both Spider-Man: Miles Morales AND Horizon: Forbidden West will be coming to PS4. Neither game is a true next-gen only experience. This is intriguing because previously Sony did two things: they talked about how they believe in true console “generations” and they also used Marvel’s Spider-Man as an example of how games could be built around the new tech, citing specifically how Spider-Man’s swinging speed was limited by the speed of the hard-drive in the PS4. It’s kind of funny, then, that the new Spider-Man is still going to be limited by the PS4, and Horizon: Forbidden West, which a lot of people were thinking would be the PS5 next-gen showcase, isn’t going to fully use the power of Sony’s new machine.
They also revealed a remastered version of Marvel’s Spider-Man. Things quickly got confusing, though. Basically, this remastered Spider-Man will include loads of entirely redone textures and stuff that takes advantage of the PS5’s power. To get the remaster it seems you have to buy Spider-Man: Miles Morales Ultimate Edition for £70. The confusion lies in whether you can get the remaster separately, and whether people who own Marvel’s Spider-Man on PS4 have any form of free or paid upgrade path to get the remaster.
EDIT: So just before I finished this up, some clarity was finally provided. People on Twitter asked Insomniac what would happen if they stuck in their Marvel’s Spider-Man PS4 disc into the PS5, to which Insomniac said, “You’ll play PS4 game via backwards compatibility.” In other words, no free upgrade to the new version. They also mentioned the remaster will have separate trophies, and that save games won’t carry over. Bugger. Weirdly, if you buy the PS4 of Miles Morales you’ll get a free upgrade to the PS5 version. Got all that? No? Neither have I. Considering Control just went through a similar debacle about next-gen upgrades, Sony are coming across as rather tone-deaf on this one.
We also got a proper look at Harry Potter, the worst kept secret in recent memory. It’s going to be set in the later 1800s, and while the trailer didn’t really delve deep into the plot it did reveal that your custom character will be able to see and control some sort of ancient magic. Apart from that, it’s an open world RPG which is exciting because I think Harry Potter is well suited to the RPG genre. Levelling up spells, putting points into Defence Against the Dark Arts or Transfiguration, attending lessons and so on all fit neatly into an RPG template. I’m a Harry Potter nerd (by which I mean the core 7 books and the movies) and I’ve been waiting for a Harry Potter game that isn’t Lego-based or an iffy movie tie-in. And with Legacy being set in the 1800’s it should mean the developers have plenty of room to tell their story without tripping over J.K. Rowling’s work.
Oddly, Hogwarts: Legacy is coming to Xbox and PC as well. Bit of a strange choice to debut the game at the Sony event, then, but I guess Sony were hoping just to get that Harry Potter buzz.
The Demon’s Souls remake get properly shown off with a good look at the gameplay. And God damn, it looks and sounds amazing! Sure, it’s a remake of an existing game, but as far as we know it’s purely a PS5 game and can therefore take proper advantage of the hardware. The result is oodles of detail everywhere, and the audio design was simply sublime.
We also got a good look at Deathloop, the new title from one of my favourite developers, Arkane. There’s a hefty dose of Dishonored in the general look of the gameplay, but its mixed with a cool art-style and a very interesting premise. Basically, you seem to be playing a hitman of sorts who needs to take out eight targets in the span of 24-hours, and you can keep reliving those 24-hours. In the demo we saw, the mission was about getting one target to visit a second target so they could be taken out at the same time. It looks really cool, and I’m excited to get hands-on with it.
Some of the new Call of Duty got shown, too. The only thing about it that gets me excited is how Raven are getting to take the lead on this one, finally stepping out from their purely support role over the years. I’ve always felt kind of bad for Raven, because all their hard-work is done in the background. They’ve helped on every Call of Duty for years and years, so it’s going to be awesome to see them get the chance to step up to the plate.
Devil May Cry 5 is getting a new special edition exclusive to the PS5 as well which will be available at launch. Things of note here are the inclusion of ray-tracing, and an optional 120FPS mode if you fancy seeing those glorious animations in an equally glorious framerate, assuming your TV can handle it. You’ll also be getting a 1.2x normal speed mode and a Legendary Dark Knight mode which ups the enemy count drastically. Finally, Vergil will be a new playable character, although if you own the PS4 version you can buy him as DLC. The special edition is coming to Xbox and PC as well.
Devil May Cry 5 kicks all sorts of demonic arse, but the special edition isn’t very interesting, I think, except to the most hardcore fans. And like the other multiplatform games on show, it was an odd choice to feature in a PS5 event.
As the Sony event came to a close there was a final tease to get the blood pumping: God of War: Ragnarock is coming in 2021. Personally, I don’t know if we needed this tease simply because we all knew more God of War was happening but mostly because they didn’t show anything. I’d rather just wait and see the game revealed properly. But hey, more God of War is incredibly exciting. I’m currently running with the theory that Ragnarock isn’t actually God of War 2, but rather it’s going to be a standalone expansion/spin-off in much the same way Spider-Man: Miles Morales is. The fact that it isn’t being titled God of War 2 and the relatively short development time both point toward this, in my opinion. Time will tell, though.
Possibly the most surprising thing Sony hit with was the announcement of the Playstation Plus Collection. Basically, if you have a PS Plus subscription you’re going to get given 18 games on your PS5 for free. This includes titles like Days Gone, God of War, Ratchet & Clank, Until Dawn, Bloodborne, Uncharted 4, Mortal Kombat X and Persona 5. You can download and play them whenever you like, although presumably if you cancel your PS Plus you’ll lose access to them. We also don’t know if more games will be added to the list in the future, such as Horizon: Zero Dawn and Death Stranding. It’s an awesome bonus that is mostly aimed at first-time console owners or people jumping ship from the Xbox, giving them access to a collection of amazing games. Naturally, though, if you’re a Playstation fan you’ve probably played most of what the collection offers. Although, if you own the disc versions of the games being offered you could always sell them and use the cash to pick up something else, which is what I might do.
So, overall the event was about 40-minutes long and packed with good stuff. And then Sony kind of stepped in the dog poop. Not badly enough to ruin everything, but still kind of…sticky and stinky. First, back in June they stated that they wouldn’t just stick PS5 pre-orders up, that they’d provide proper warning so everybody could get ready. Well, they didn’t do that. Instead, they didn’t mention a pre-order date at all during the event, and then for some baffling reason Geoff Keighley later Tweeted out that they’d be going live the next morning. Then things got worse when Walmart decided to ignore that and just put the pre-orders up, which triggered everyone else doing the same. It was, frankly, a fucking disaster.
As for me, I lucked into my pre-order. I had finished watching the event, and then went off to do other things. The next morning I got up, saw that pre-orders were apparently going up and stumbled onto Amazon where it turns out they had only literally just put the pre-order page up. So I got a full-fat PS5 pre-ordered and by time I had finished they’d all sold out. Yeah. Madness. A lot of people have gotten Emails from Amazon saying they their console might not arrive on launch due to high demand. So far, I haven’t gotten any such Email, so I’m crossing my fingers that it’ll turn up on November 19th and I can review it.
The pricing of Sony’s next-gen games was also quietly ignored during the event, which makes sense. Demon Soul’s and Destruction All Stars Racing are both retailing at £70. Even Spider-Man: Miles Morales is selling for £50 despite it not being a full–fledged sequel.
Also not included in the event was Sony finally confirming how backwards compatibility will be working. Sadly, the PS5 cannot run PS, PS2 or PS3 games. But apparently 99% of PS4 games will run just fine. I’m guessing that the 1% is going to be due to licensing issues.
So, overall, it’s a bit of a mixed bag. Despite Sony’s claims of believing in true console generations, the PS5 will only launch with two true PS5 exclusives in the form of Demon’s Souls and Destruction AllStars. By keeping stuff like Miles Morales and Horizon: Forbidden West as both PS4 and PS5 titles Sony will obviously maximise their profit, and PS4 fans will still get to enjoy some of the newest titles. However, it also means the PS5 is less compelling. Is a remake and a destruction derby game really worth spending £350-£450 on right now?
Right now, right here, I feel like the PS5 is the better option between the two consoles. However, in a year or two things could change dramatically as Microsoft’s acquisition of Zenimax starts to payoff. Plus, that £250 Xbox Series S with Games Pass is a tempting option.
Anyway, let me know what you thought of the event, how you’re feeling about both consoles and whether you’re going to get one, both or none? Maybe you’re going to just go buy an RTX 3080 instead? Y’know, if they ever actually come back in stock and aren’t immediately snapped up by bots.
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Categories: Weekend Whammy