Welcome back my packmates, it’s time for another wildly inconsistent Weekend Whammy! Hurrah! Personal life at the moment continues to be a messy affair filled with more drama and intrigue than the early seasons of Game of Thrones, so getting anything done is a bit of a challenge. Still, I’m here, we’re head, so what am I chattering about this week? Well, Mass Effect: Legendary Edition impressions, mostly, but there’s also a bunch of Sony news to tackle, Valve games maybe coming to console and how there are 25 Playstation games currently being made. Let’s jump in, yeah?
Seems like I’ve come under the influence of some sort of controller drift curse. You recall that my PS5 controller became a victim of the dread analog stick drift? Well, now my Series S Xbox controller has developed the same issue. The left stick has a slight upwards drift and also seems to randomly act like the stick has been clicked in. Needless to say, I cannot articulate how bloody miffed I am about this. And of course, nothing is ever simple about getting it fixed because every time I go through the repair process online it tells me my browser is blocking third-party devices. After disabling every setting I can find, trying 3 different browsers and even using a tablet I still can’t get it to go through. Yeeeeesh.
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Code for the PC version of Days Gone came through, and I’m quite excited by the end of revisiting it. I don’t know how I’ll be doing coverage of it yet, though, since I already did a regular review of it. Obviously, there’s the technical stuff to chat about, but given the recent news of a Days Gone 2 being turned down by Sony, maybe I’ll do something about that.
I’ve been plonking about with Microsoft Rewards and just redeemed my first batch of points for a month of Game Pass Ultimate, and reckon I might be able to grab just enough points each month to keep Ultimate topped up.
If you don’t know, Rewards is basically a thing where you can do a bunch of stuff to earn points and then redeem points for a bunch of stuff like Xbox Gift Cards or Amazon cards etc. Points can be earned through Game Pass quests, the rewards app on the Xbox, on the Microsoft site and via searching for stuff using *shudders* Bing. I think on average I’ve spent maybe 5-10 minutes per day on it, plus a bit more via Game Pass quests, and have gotten enough for a free month of Ultimate, so it might be worth keeping up.
The review for Returnal should be up soon. I’ve been trying to collect my thoughts on the game which have only grown more disparate since the last time I talked about it. There was a really bad moment there where I almost stopped playing Returnal entirely. I powered through it, though, so now it’s a case of bringing everything together and explaining how I felt about the whole thing. It’s a complex game with a lot of awesome elements, and a lot of things that don’t quite work.
Mass Effect Impressions. Right, let’s do those.
My love affair with Mass effect started back in the same year it was released. My sister picked it up for me for either my birthday or my Christmas – I can’t remember which – and I was instantly hooked. I love sci-fi movies and TV shows, and Mass effect was like some epic space opera that I could play. And then I found out I could have sex with aliens, so that was a bonus.
My romance choice was almost always Tali. Something about her innocence and the way she spoke always tugged at my heartstrings. Hell, I was so invested that any time I played the first or second game and romanced Miranda or Liara I felt like I was cheating on my one true love and it hurt, man.
Trying to play as a Renegade was the same – sure, I could force myself to do it, but I always felt horribly uncomfortable being a jerk. But then, that’s how good the writing and the characters and the world were. I was so invested that I wanted to roleplay as Shepard, and Shepard was a goddamn hero!
And Garrus! I missed you Garrus, my Turian brother. It’s like hanging out with a friend I haven’t seen in years, and yet it instantly feels familiar, like it was just yesterday.
Early impressions of the remaster for ME1 are very good. The graphical overhaul is solid, with characters and environments getting a whole heap of new detail, almost to the point of being detrimental because Captain Anderson now has so many pores and skin blemishes that he looks like he desperately needs some skincare products. On Eden Prime, I actually had to stop for a moment and soak in the moment where you see a Reaper taking off because it looked that damn good. The biggest compliment I can give it is that Mass Effect looks exactly how I remember it looking through my rose-tinted glasses.
I like the changes they’ve made to the combat, too, softening the use of stats to decide whether you hit the target or not. It makes the game feel a bit more punchy and also just helps bring the trilogy together a little more. I also appreciate that every class can use every gun now. No longer do I have to stare wistfully at a sniper rifle and be unable to use it to blow some heads off.
I haven’t gotten to the Mako yet but I’m excited to see what they’ve done to it to make it more…er, manageable. I remember bouncing across planets in that thing like I was driving a dune buggy with trashed suspension. Hilarious in retrospect? Yes. Fucking annoying at the time? Also yes.
The inclusion of an overarching trophy list on top of the individual trophy lists for the three games is excellent. Again, it just helps bring them all together, and I’m sure Trophy hunters will appreciate the extra effort. I also can’t think of another game that has done something like this. Usually, they either do separate lists or one single list, so EA and BioWare might have done something unique here. Help me out, folks, am I right?
Theres no getting around the fact that Mass Effect does feel old, though. Even at the time, it launched the gameplay was just sort of okay, and now so many years later it is kind of archaic in the places. But everything else is just so amazing, so engaging, so riveting that it barely matters. The writing in the first hour alone destroys modern-day BioWare, showing what the company were capable of at their very best.
Although, what the hell is up with sprinting? It was already hilarious to me that Shepard, an elite Spectre agent, could only sprint for a few seconds without sounding like he was dying. BioWare added in the ability to sprint outside of combat which certainly does make getting around places like the Citadel much faster, but why can Shepard still only sprint for like 5-seconds? If a short sprint is so vital to combat then that’s fine, but outside of fights let me sprint indefinitely, damn it! I mean, I have Cystic Fibrosis and I can sprint longer than this dude, and I’m not exactly fit, either. Time to work on that cardio, Shepard. Maybe stop banging every alien in the galaxy and start hitting a treadmill, dude.
They haven’t touched the animations, though, and specifically the facial animations. These had improved a lot by ME2 and ME3, so it’s a little odd to me that they didn’t work on them for ME1 to help unify the whole trilogy. With the improved character models and the extra detail on their faces, the ancient facial animations and lip-syncing look bloody horrifying. And their eyes…oh God, their eyes! they bulge out like they’ve had cocaine directly applied to their eyeballs.
There are other areas where I admit to being a tad baffled about why the developers chose to change some things but leave others. Like, they’ve redone the U.I. and it’s quite nice, but they’ve left the terrible inventory system alone and you still can’t bring up your journal in the galaxy map.
I also wish they had gone in and changed the cover system. ME1 uses an awkward soft-cover system where you walk up to a wall or something and Shepard automatically takes cover behind it, but it often doesn’t work properly. ME2 and ME3 both swapped to the Gears of War style and it worked much better.
So, my early impressions are very positive. The graphical upgrade is solid, the other updates are nice additions and it’s amazing to have such a huge part of my love of the Xbox 360 era back again. If you’ve never played the series before then I think this is a must-buy. If you have played ’em before, I reckon the remaster is good enough to warrant yet another playthrough.
As for my actual review, I’m not sure how I’ll be handling that yet. The games are way too long to do a proper “review” anytime soon, so I might do reviews of the individual games, or maybe a more detailed early impressions and follow up later with a sort of Mass Effect love letter.
First, let’s talk about a little piece of news that gets me all giddy to think about: a South Korean rating board has listed the amazing rogue-like action game Hades for PS4, suggesting that it will be coming to at least Sony’s machine. According to the listing, Hades was given a 15+ rating.
It’s no secret that I would happily marry Hades and spend the rest of my life with it if possible, so if it comes to Playstation 4 I’m going to buy it again purely so I can get the Trophies for it. Hopefully, an Xbox release will also turn up so that even more people can enjoy the best game of 2020.
Sticking with Sony, it’s continuing its surprising relationship with Wired who scored yet another big interview, this time with Herman Hulst, co-founder of Guerilla and current head of Sony Studios. The article is a fascinating read by itself and you should absolutely take the time to read through it, but for now the bit I want to chat about is the 25 PS5 games currently in development by Sony Studios. Apparently nearly half of those titles are brand new IPs, and Hulst states, “There’s an incredible amount of variety originating from different regions. Big, small, different genres.”
Now, the wording isn’t entirely clear as to whether these games are only by first-party Sony studios, but I’m going to assume it is since they specifically reference Sony Studios. Currently, Sony has thirteen game developers under its umbrella, potentially accounting for at least thirteen of the 25 games mentioned. However, several of those studios are big enough to be developing multiple projects – specifically, Naughty Dog, Insomniac and Santa Monica all have the capability to produce numerous games simultaneously.
Currently we only know of four games that have been offficially confirmed, and those are:
God of War: Ragnarock
Ratchet & Clank: Rift in Time
Horizon: Forbidden West
Gran Turismo 7
Now we head into speculation, some of which seems very likely. First, remakes for both The Last of Us and Uncharted have been mentioned as being in development at Naughty Dog, plus there’s the Factions multiplayer mode for The Last of Us Part 2, which may or may not be counted as a game in its own right. Insomniac will certainly be working on Marvel’s Spider-Man 2, and it seems like Sucker Punch will follow up Ghost of Tsushima with a sequel given its popularity.
Even accounting for all that, it still indicates that Sony will be reviving some other older IP. Could we finally be seeing the return of stuff like Resistance, Killzone, SOCOM and Syphon Filter?
It’s also worth thinking about the fact that PSVR2 is due for release next year and Sony would presumably want to launch at least a few games with the headset. I feel confident in saying that Insomniac will be one of the studios tapped to put something out since they have VR experience already.
Whatever the exact details, it’s exciting to know that Sony have a big slate of upcoming PS5 exclusives. Of course, you can’t play ’em if you can’t find a PS5 to buy. The article also briefly touched upon the current issues surrounding console shortages. “We see production ramping up over the summer and certainly into the second half of the year, and we would hope to see some sort of return to normality in terms of the balance between supply and demand during that period,” said Sony CEO Jim Ryan.
So, it doesn’t look like things are going to be fixed soon, but hopefully as the year goes on the PS5, and by extension, the Xbox Series S and Series X, will become easier to get hold of, and by next year the situation should be much better.
As the legal battle between Epic and Apple rages on more and more interesting little snippets continue to emerge. This time it’s the fact that in late 2020 Epic apparently offered $150-200 million to Sony in exchange for 4-6 of their games. Now, interestingly Sony actually owns around 3% of Epic currently having purchased stock twice now, with the latest being just the other week. However, the proposed deal for access to Sony’s games doesn’t seem to have been accepted, and Sony has just released Days Gone on Steam, indicating that, at least for the moment, Sony doesn’t seem interested in Epic’s PC games store.
The whole thing is a little weird because since Sony are already in bed with Epic in a sense, you would imagine they would be quite happy to accept a deal to put their games on the Epic store as well, thus helping themselves and Epic grow. Surely the Epic store being the only place to get Playstation games on PC would be a massive boon for Steam competitor. My assumption is Sony must be much more interested in something else, which if I was to hazard a guess would be Unreal Engine 5.
During a conference call Ubisoft revealed that they plan on jumping into the already massively crowded free-to-play market in the future. The publisher has since clarified this by stating that they will still be releasing premium triple-A games, but that they also intend on putting out free-to-play titles as well.
I…don’t get this. Well, I do, to a degree – the big free-to-play games out there continue to churn out money and that is tempting to every other company. However, it’s an overcrowded market and I fail to see what Ubisoft can do to tempt players away from the myriad of other titles out there.
Still, it looks like their first foray into FTP will be a spin-off of The Division, titled The Division: Heartland. It’ll launch before the end of Ubisoft’s fiscal year which is March 2022. At least they are jumping in with something big, I suppose, as The Division 2 has been doing very well, and was recently revealed to be getting another big expansion pack.
It looks like Ubisoft has been planning this for a while because there was a period where they were selling The Division 2 for about $2, which was largely to get people on board before launching the Warlords of New York expansion but could also now been seen as a way to get more people into The Division before bringing out a free-to-play spin-off.
Something that grabbed my attention is that this new project is being helmed by Red Storm, a Ubisoft studio that is largely forgotten about. They’ve produced a few VR titles before but have largely been working as a support team, so it’s nice to see them getting a chance to lead a project, even if it is someone else’s IP.
Meanwhile, Valve might be getting back into the console gaming space. Overlord of Valve, Gabe Newell did a Q&a session recently at a high-school assembly, and he was asked by a student, “Will Steam be putting any games on consoles, or will it just stay on PC?”
Mr. Newell, who is notorious for being unable to count higher than 2, replied, “You will… uh… get a better idea of that by the end of year,”
The question was originally filmed by a Reddit user called Odysseic, but when you visit the link now it seems the post was deleted by the person who posted it.
Valve hasn’t published a console game since Counter-Strike: Global Offensive way back in *checks* 2012!? Jesus Christ.
My instinct tells me that the most likely candidate for a console release is Half-Life: Alyx for the PSVR2 which is due to launch next year. While Alyx was built to help sell the Valve Index headset, it wouldn’t surprise me if Valve like the idea of getting some extra sales for Alyx while also helping to expand the VR market which has struggled to grow. The idea of being able to play Half-Life: Alyx, which I hold to be one of the best VR games available, on the PS5 could be really enticing for players.
Alright, that’s a wrap for this week. As always if you want to support what I’m doing just use the button at the top of the screen which will take you to an option to donate once or support the site on a weekly, monthly or even yearly basis. It’s greatly appreciated.
Take care everyone, stay safe, have fun and play hard.