Ah, yes, a Weekend Whammy that isn’t even near the weekend. There wasn’t a lot I felt like saying this week, so I’ll keep this one short. But never sweet.
So, I had the pleasure of getting the first of two Covid vaccinations this week, hopefully taking the first step toward being able to leave the house without being utterly paranoid. When I got it I was warned that the most likely side-effects would things like a headache and a fever as my immune system comes to life a bull on fire and proceeds to kick my brain around while it looks for the threat. This prediction was spot on; I got the injection at about 2:00pm and woke up somewhere around 2am shivering like crazy and with my head being used as a Dwarven forge. Then I was blessed with cold sweats and a dry mouth before settling in for a night of insane fever dreams, which primarily consisted of a baffling mix of Harry Potter and Hitman 3, a combination I’m confident even the most insane fan-fic writer has never even considered. The fever was gone by morning, but the headache remained. The problem now was a complete lack of energy, which I had also been warned about. That persisted for a day or two and now…now I’m fine again. I’m not sure if I can look forward to the same reaction to the second vaccination when it comes, which means I should do a bit of research into how the two injections work together. Hmm.
Mostly I’m just telling you this to…I dunno, give you a heads up? Tell you it’s fine? I get that a lot of people are anti-vaccine because yes, it can be hard to trust governments when they are up to so much shady shit on a daily basis and then there’s the idea of not knowing what’s in a vaccine or how they even work on a theoritcal level. My advice is to do your research; learn about the vaccine and how it works, learn about the possible risks that come with it, consider whether yourself or others around you are particuilarly at risk when it comes to Covid. More than anything else, stop and think long and hard about how the vaccine isn’t necesserily about you. If you don’t have any major health issues and are relatively young then Covid is still a threat, but quite a minor one, and so you could be inclined to ignore the vaccine and if you get the virus you get it. You’ll probably be fine, it’ll be a like a nasty flu. However, you can pass that on to people who it can and will hurt far worse. So I view the vaccine as being good for myself, but also as a shield for other people who I might pass it on to. We could weather the storm of Covid without a vaccine and by opening everything back up and perhaps shielding the more vulnerable while everyone else gets back to life, but I think we’d be looking at a lot of death, whereas a vaccine could get us back to reasonable normality pretty quickly. Covid probably won’t go away entirely, but perhaps we can get it down to being like the flu; something we can live with and mitigate its damage.
Enough of this madness, though, let’s talk games! I wrapped up The Medium and found it to be somewhat lacking in almost every way. As the first game to be only available on Microsoft’s new machines (not counting it being on PC, too) it’s a genuine shame The Medium didn’t land with more of a bang. But the good news for Bloober is that it has recovered its development costs and appears to be making a profit, so the sequel that I mentioned hoping for in the review seems more like, or perhaps some sort of chunky expansion pack.
Over on the PS5 I had another exclusive game to chat about that also didn’t really live up to its potential. Destruction AllStars is fun in short blasts and it being free for PSN subscribers is pretty awesome, but it’s also shallow and forgettable. I think there’s hope yet, though, because there’s some good ideas to build a great game on through updates. Given some time, Destruction AllStars could up being a solid multiplayer title.
As for my Xbox Series S, it has been perfectly adequate. That sounds horrible, I guess, but it isn’t as exciting as the PS5 in a lot of ways. One thing I have noted is that since the Series S is primarily a 1080p console and I have it hooked up to a 4k TV the image is notably softer. It’s a good way of really seeing the difference resolution can make on larger screens. Ultimately, I got the Series S as a present and it replaced my One X, but I can’t say it was actually an upgrade, at least in terms of raw graphical performance. For the moment, then, if you have a One X just stick with it unless you’re making the big leap to the Series X. This is especially true since right now there’s nothing you can’t already play on the previous generation Xbox consoles outside of The Medium.
With that said, if you haven’t owned an Xbox before or have maybe being playing on PC and want to try out console gaming for the first time, I think the Series S is a stellar little machine that packs a lot of oomph in its tiny shell and is excellent value for money. Doubly so if you grab a Games Pass subscription.
I also think I prefer the Xbox Series controller over the Dualsense. Don’t get me wrong, the Dualsense’s haptic feedback and adaptive triggers are truly amazing and I hope they get properly utilized by developers on more games and not just 1st part Sony exclusives. From a comfort standpoint, though, I find the Xbox controller is nicer to hold. I’ve noticed that the Dualsense is just a touch too wide for me, and so between that and have to reach for analogue sticks I’m getting a sore hand, whereas the Xbox controller is a bit smaller and the offset stick is so much nicer to work with. It might lack the fancy features of the Dualsense, but if I had the ability to use whatever controller I wanted on the PS5 I’d go with the Xbox controller unless the game I was playing made great use of the Dualsense’s cool features.
And I have to say, I think I like the PS5’s UI less than I did when I reviewed it. It’s a lot of little things that start to grate over time, like how there seems to be a lot of sub-menus to navigate. Browsing Trophies is just a pain in the arse and the store still needs developed more and WHY CAN’T I HOLD THE PS BUTTON TO BRING UP THE OPTION TO POWER OFF!? It makes me really curious to see what the first proper update is going to be, though. A UI can go through a lot of revisions in its lifetime, so I’m sure Sony are going to work hard to improve things, and I’d be amazed if one of the improvements isn’t streamlining Trophies.
It ain’t all Roses over on the Xbox UI, mind you. I just discovered last night that I can’t transfer captured images into a USB stick like I can on the PS5, which is how I get images for game reviews. To be fair, you can upload photos to Onedrive or Xbox Live, but I’d much rather pop in a USB stick and copy them over. It’s one of those weird little design quirks, for sure, but I’m also surprised they’ve never updated it.
Speaking of Xbox and stuff, I’m considering starting up a series titled Best of Games Pass in which each week I’ll pick out one game from the Games Pass lineup to focus on and maybe give you guys some news ideas of stuff to play. I’ll try to steer clear of some of the more obvious choices like Gears 5 or Forza Horizon 4, at least at first, in favour of things you might have overlooked or missed. If the first few posts go well I’ll keep it going and maybe even consider doing an equivelent version for PS Now as well.
News broke this week that Warner Bros. managed to finally push through their attempt to patent the excellent Nemesis system that forced the beating heart of both Shadow of Morder and Shadow of War. If you didn’t know this system lets the game create named enemies that interact with you and other Orcs in the game, thus a random enemy that kills you can earn a name and a series of traits and will comment on past encounters with you. Warner Bros. have been attempting to patent this system for years now and have finally succeeded, to the collected dislike of everyone else. Look, I the urge to protect your work is obviously important, but attempting to patent specific game mechanics is absurd for a number of reasons, the first of which is because games as a whole are incredibly iterative, building on what came before. The two Shadow Of games are prime examples of this as they are very clearly cobbled together from dozens of other games, a Frankenstein’s monster of game mechanics that could be found on other titles. The other big issue is how vague the patent is, potentially opening the door for developers to accidentaly breach it without knowing, which could also in turn make developers reluctant to try certain ideas for fear it might infringe on the patent and bring down the might of Warner Bros. lawyers on them. To think of it in other ways, it would be like patenting a certain camera angle in movies or even patenting the basic heroes journey story structure when writing books.
If there is anything good to come out of this patent debacle it’s that we will perhaps seem another Shadow Of game, or at least see the Nemesis system return in something else. I love how the whole Nemesis concept works, even when it was arguably overdone in Shadow of War, so I can’t say the prospect of seeing it finally getting used again isn’t exciting, although I still would have been happier to have it as an idea that could be built upon by others as well.
And that’s all I have to say this week. The dog kept me up all night due to loud wind, which he hates, so I’m basically asleep at the keyboard right now and the prospect of talking about some of the latest stupidity in the gaming industry is practically terrifying.