Weekend Whammy

Weekend Whammy: Hades, Sony & Movies

The first thing on the agenda this week is a little bit of site maintenance news. Normally I put the the donation box on the bottom of the page, but this week it’s up top. I know, Know. I don’t want to come across like a clingy ex. The reason its up here is because in the next few weeks this site’s annual running costs will be, totalling just under £300. It’s not a lot of cash in the grand scheme, but as most of you already know I don’t work due to my Cystic Fibrosis and I don’t run this site for profit outside of the occasional sponsored post. So if you can afford to chuck a few coins toward keeping WGB going, I’d appreciate it greatly. If you can’t afford to then I understand perfectly. Maybe considering sacrificing a family member on my behalf? I won’t judge.

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I wanted to share my favourite gaming story of the week which comes from Larian Studios, who recently released Baldur’s Gate 3 in Early Access. Before they put out the details for the third hotfix, they took a moment to poke fun at the player base, posting this image and saying: “Before the fixes, let’s share something you’ve created yourselves (this is your own fault) through your choices in character creation. We took the most popular choices in character creation, and recreated this. We thought our analytics system wasn’t working! We checked. It is.”

“Congratulations, you’ve basically made the default Vault Dweller. What the hell guys. We gave you demon eyes, horns, and even tails. We are sorely disappointed. Go crazy. We worked hard on this!”

I love this. I love that they took a moment to lament putting all this cool stuff into the character creator only for most people to ignore it. It also makes me wonder, is it a case of most people making something that reflects themselves, pointing to the average player being a white male with a chiselled jaw, or are the vast majority of people just not bothered by in-depth character creation? I’ll spend hours on a character creator to either make myself or to create some sort of badass, but most of my friends pick a premade, chuck in a few changes and off they go.

Speaking of Larian, they also politely asked Nvidia if they could have a GTX 3080, pretty please, because they were all sold out and they really want to check their game can use one properly. Brilliant. I hope they get one.

Anyway, this week I have been playing the absolute hell out of Hades. By Samuel L. Jackson’s shiny bald head, Hades is fucking awesome! Why did I wait so long to play it? I’m about 30-hours in right now, and I still have the itch to take just one more run, and then another and another and another. It’s…it’s…ugh *horrifying orgasmic noises.* It’s a Game of the Year contender, though given November’s release schedule it’s going to have stiff competition.

I’m still finding new things, still building character relationships, still finding cool Boon combinations. Look out for my review, it will be coming soon and will likely be thousands of gushing words covered in drool. But for now, just know that I adore Hades, and its insane amount of lines of dialogue and its beautiful game feel and its gorgeous graphics. It is easily one of the greatest rogue-like games ever made, and I’m sure for some people, perhaps myself included, it is the very best of them all.

In terms of upcoming stuff I’ll be doing Ghostrunner and possibly The Survivalists. Ghostrunner looks like a first-person parkour action game, like a mix of Dishonored and Mirror’s Edge, while The Survivalists is top-down survival game that comes from the same people who did The Escapists.

Apart from that, its been a slow couple of weeks with light showers of depression and moodiness, so I’ve been reading and catching up on some films, including The Babysitter: killer Queen. I love the original The Babysitter on Netflix, a horror comedy about Cole, a kid who discovers his super awesome, super sexy babysitter made a deal with the devil and needs his blood. It’s bonkers and hilarious with a tone that’s all its own. There’s some genuinely hilarious sequences (Max is a highlight) and the movie has a lot of heart. The sequel doubles down by going bat-shit crazy, somehow managing to include a brief dance number, cutaway gags, insane deaths, health bars, an actual Hadouken and just…just weirdness, dudes. Part of me thinks it goes too far into randomness, but another part of me revels in how much fun it has. In a weird way it reminds me of Scott Pilgrim vs The World, except there’s less consistency in the style of madness which can make it feel scruffy by comparison. Still, both The Babysitter and The Babysitter: Killer Queen are worth watching on Netflix if you love a bit of absurd, gory comedy like I do.

Also on Netflix worth checking out is Operation Odessa, a documentary detailing the insane events surrounding a Russian mobster, Cuban spy and wheeling-dealing smooth talker try to sell a Russian nuclear submarine to a Colombian drug cartel. It’s a true story, and the documentary includes incredible interviews with the guys who tried to pull it off.

I’ve been thinking about trying out Genshin Impact. You know, that free-to-play game that has seemingly taken over the world by actually being pretty good, at least according to loads of people? It’s made about $100-million back already in just a few weeks, and from what I’ve been hearing has a bit of a Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild vibe. Have you guys played it? If so, do you think it’s worth jumping into, or am I going to wind up in a time-sink that sucks up all my money and leaves me crying like a bitch?

On the game news front, Sony got themselves in trouble when users of the PS4 started getting messages indicating that their voice chat might be recorded. Turns out this apparently a new feature for the PS5 wherein people can send in clips from voice chats for moderation. But something that caught my eye more than the potential recording of your chats for moderation is that Sony quite clearly states in its new terms and condition that, “you hereby authorize us to use, distribute, copy, display and publish your User Information, without payment to you.”

Then they go on to state that, “You agree that any third party may record, use and distribute your information for any reason without any restrictions or compensation to you.”

This is a strangely broad legal sentence that gives Sony and any other parties a lot of control over your information, and free-reign to pretty much do as they like with it. Sony then followed up on their official blog, attempting to justify their measures: “Managing online safety is an important part of ensuring that. We believe that it’s critical that gamers be able to quickly and accurately report abuse or harassment if they experience it while on PlayStation Network. As part of this initiative, we’ve been preparing to roll out a new feature on the PS5 console that enables gamers to report verbal harassment through a new Voice Chat reporting function. Its sole purpose is to help in reporting of inappropriate behavior, including actions that violate our Community Code of Conduct. Please note that this feature will not actively monitor or listen in on your conversations – ever – and it’s strictly reserved for reporting online abuse or harassment. “

The way this works is that PS5 users can submit a 40-second audio clip with their reports, and that clip can come from the last 5-minutes of audio communication. In other words, the PS5 will continuously record any audio communication you make in case you want to use it. Sony confirmed you cannot opt out of this.

The issue is that what Sony are saying on their blog and what Sony are saying in their new terms and conditions feel at odds. While they hold up their hands and tell us that it’s purely all for our safety and that they won’t be actively monitoring or listening in, their also using legal language which lets them and third parties do exactly that if they wish, as well as use your user information (which Sony defines as including login details, text communications, audio communications, shopping habits and more) in whatever fashion they want. For example, a third-party can record your voice chat and then use it to create an advert on the TV using your voice and there’s nothing you can do.

It’s also worrying that Sony have altered their code of conduct, so now the language surrounding what could be deemed offensive or rude is fuzzier than ever, with Sony reserving the right to ban you if you break the code of conduct. The language used is vague enough that under section 5.3 of the code of conduct you can be banned and lose access to your entire library of games for disparaging someone’s ability to play a game. In other words, the code of conduct is vague enough that Sony could squash trash talking if they so choose.

For better information check out Hoeg Law on Youtube who also provides a quick, amended version of the Terms of Service that make more sense.

But in good Sony news, we did get a teardown video that ripped a PS5 and presented its electrical entrails for us to goggle at, and another video that finally (FINALLY!) let us get a glimpse of the console’s U.I. There’s not much to say about the teardown except WOULD YOU LOOK AT THE SIZE OF THE COOLING SOLUTION ON THAT SEXY BEAST!? Normally console makers skimp on cooling, but Sony have gone out their way and thrown extra cash at the PS5, including using fancy liquid metal instead of thermal paste. Hopefully the PS5 is going to be lovely and quiet, but the real test will be years down the line when new games are pushing the hardware to its limit. Just look at the PS4: it sounded fine to start with, but with newer games it sounds more like an aging jet trying to reach the sound barrier.

As for the U.I. it looks quite nice. There are a few features that I don’t think will get much use, like the activity cards, largely because developers will need to support them themselves and I’m not convinced that companies outside of Sony first-party studios will be willing to put the work in. But I liked how sleek the whole interface, and I especially loved that the store is built-in rather than being a separate application. I really had shopping in both the PS4 and Xbox One stores because they are so damn slow, but the PS4 slow is the worst by a longshot. I think that’s a win for everyone: players get a much nicer experience, and in turn might be more compelled to pop into the store on a whim. I hardly ever jump into the PS Store without knowing exactly what I want because randomly browsing around is too slow and awkward.

I quite like the use of picture-in-picture as well to bring up game guides or so you can even watch your friend’s gameplay. If I actually had friends I could imagine sticking their game up in the corner of my screen and checking out what their doing.

Ultimately, the job of a good U.I. is to not be noticed, right? The only time we should ever pay attention to it is when we first get it and go, “oooo, that’s smooth” and then never think about it again.

My biggest overriding thought, though, is where the hell am I going to put this bloody thing? Seriously, the PS5 is huuuuuuuuuuuge. Looking at it, I don’t actually think it’ll fit on my TV stand, so I guess I’ll either have to buy a whole new stand or maybe just build a wobbly tower of books and boxes for it to sit on. Let’s be honest, are you even really an adult if you haven’t precariously balanced stuff on other stuff?

Meanwhile, in other disgusting news, 2Khas introduced unskippable adds into NBA 2k21 a month after the game was launched. Basically, during loading screens the game will display a video ad, and even if the game finishes loading you have to wait for the ad to finish. This is low behaviour even for the likes of 2K, and is made all the worse by the fact that they waited for the initial reviews to be posted before adding the ads. It’s a dick move.

Anyway, that will do it for now folks. What are you all playing out there, huh?

Categories: Weekend Whammy

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