Di­a­logue

EDGE - - GAMES SECTIONS -

Edge readers share their opin­ions; one wins a New Nin­tendo 3DS XL

Idle thumbs

I’ve never been a com­ple­tion­ist. As some­one who only got back into games af­ter skip­ping a gen­er­a­tion, I’ve found the Achieve­ments sys­tem both be­mus­ing and in­tru­sive.

But re­cently I’ve dis­cov­ered an in­ter­est­ing use for Tro­phies on the PS4: you can see which per­cent­age of play­ers has achieved what. Since most Tro­phies are a mark of progress, you can use it to tell at what point said game has been des­tined for the CEX shelf. Much like Nathan Brown’s col­umn last month, I’m re­lat­ing this to Street Fighter V.

For four months, I’ve been in a Sisyphean state be­tween the Bronze and Su­per Bronze leagues. It’s not just that points docked for los­ing be­come so un­for­giv­ing the mo­ment you reach the lat­ter, but also that im­prove­ment is be­com­ing near im­pos­si­ble as I con­stantly find my­self matched up against play­ers lit­er­ally leagues ahead. Is match­mak­ing bro­ken? Not re­ally. The player­base has just bot­tomed out, if you look at the Tro­phy stats.

For the ‘Fight­ing On The In­ter­net’ Tro­phy, you need to only play ten ranked matches. Last I checked, that’s only been un­locked by 31.6 per cent of play­ers, which al­ready writes off most of the 1.4 mil­lion user­base. If, like me, you’ve been play­ing reg­u­larly since launch, you’ll have eas­ily played 300 ranked matches and got ‘A Fiendish Trap’, right? Only 6.4 per cent have. To top it off, the num­ber of play­ers to have reached Sil­ver (‘Mus­cles Bring Vic­tory!’) is just 5.8 per cent.

So, 5.8 out of 6.4? That ba­si­cally gives me a nine-in-ten chance of be­ing matched up with some­one way above my abil­i­ties, and con­sid­er­ing my daily ses­sions haven’t even lasted ten matches... well, why bother? So I’ve of­fi­cially re­tired from ranked matches be­fore I lose my san­ity. That said, ca­sual matchups are just as bad, if not worse, so it re­ally does seem the less-skilled ma­jor­ity (over 90 per cent) have given up al­to­gether. Be­cause what else is there? No ar­cade mode; the pro­logues don’t fill me with much con­fi­dence for the June story up­date; and when I fi­nally man­aged to beat all ten combo chal­lenges as Chun-Li, the pit­tance of Fight Money awarded was another slap in the face. So cheers to Cap­com for de­liv­er­ing the most me­chan­i­cally per­fect Street Fighter to date but alien­at­ing most of its player­base in the process. How’s that for a Tro­phy?

On the flip­side, it turns out I’m only one Tro­phy away from join­ing the 7.1 per cent of

Blood­borne play­ers to have got the Plat­inum. Even though my re­search in­di­cates that it’ll re­quire fight­ing that bas­tard Log­a­r­ius again, my odds are surely bet­ter than in another game of SFV. Alan Wen Such painstak­ing re­search de­serves a New 3DS, but a warn­ing: if you thought that the SFV player­base was small, you’re in for a shock when you play Su­per SFIV: 3D Edi­tion.

99 per cent in­vis­i­ble

Do we no longer own games? Are we merely the tem­po­rary cus­to­di­ans of the things we buy? I’ve been play­ing and buy­ing games for over 25 years. Some of these games I still own and play, par­tic­u­larly a good few that I bought in the early ’90s.

With con­stant on­line connectivity, are we ac­tu­ally still buy­ing games, or just rent­ing them un­til the com­pa­nies shut down on­line ser­vices? Dis­ney In­fin­ity, which has been a fam­ily ac­tiv­ity for me and the kids for the past three years, is dis­ap­pear­ing, and Project Spark is at the end of its life. No more user con­tent, all those hours of share­able lev­els gone. So what hap­pens when I buy and play No Man’s Sky and it some­how be­comes un­suc­cess­ful? Even­tu­ally it will be­come a shiny coaster or a use­less down­load.

It would be a great strat­egy to pro­vide some un­teth­er­ing from on­line ser­vices so

“Af­ter skip­ping a gen­er­a­tion, I’ve found the Achieve­ments sys­tem be­mus­ing and in­tru­sive”

that some time down the line I can show my grand­kids the thrills of the first Destiny. Games are art, but shut down my servers and you’ve ef­fec­tively closed the door on the vir­tual art gallery.

It would be great, but it’s not pos­si­ble, so we just have to wait for the game, and af­ter ten min­utes it dis­cov­ers the server is gone, fol­lowed by a cheery, Hitch-hiker’s-style “Thanks for play­ing”. How many cur­rent-gen games are dead in the wa­ter? But hey, let’s just wait for ver­sion 2.0. This grumpy old bum is off to see if

Time­s­plit­ters 2 still works in my PlayS­ta­tion 2 so I can show it to my son, or plug a good old

Zelda car­tridge into my SNES. Now, where did I put that Scart lead? Keith Lawler The lack of fixed gen­er­a­tional leaps on PC means it’s less of a prob­lem there, at least in the­ory. Hope­fully Sony and Mi­crosoft shift­ing to it­er­a­tive hard­ware cy­cles will make such shut­downs less likely in fu­ture.

Hard­core his­tory

I’m late to the Dark Souls party. The se­ries presents a sub­stan­tial chal­lenge, for sure, yet dif­fi­culty is not a new con­cept.

PS1 games were rou­tinely pun­ish­ing. Re­mem­ber the first Tomb Raider? Even the child-friendly Sony mas­cot Crash Bandi­coot de­manded pre­ci­sion tim­ing. Res­i­dent Evil could be very un­for­giv­ing, too.

Then there was Death­trap Dun­geon, ar­guably the spir­i­tual an­ces­tor of the Dark

Souls se­ries – a tra­di­tional dun­geon crawler that em­ployed sadis­tic traps and al­most in­sur­mount­able en­e­mies, made worse by a schiz­o­phrenic cam­era and blurred pix­els, mak­ing it im­pos­si­ble to de­tect a trap or dodge a blow. Even Ninja: Shadow Of

Dark­ness was rou­tinely im­pos­si­bly hard. Ar­guably, the ances­tors of the cur­rent hard­core are ar­cade games that, pro­grammed for fre­quent coin in­put, en­ticed then de­stroyed the ca­sual player, while still cre­at­ing the feel­ing that ‘just one more try’ would al­low us to progress. And the real en­tice­ment (be­fore the phrase ‘endgame con­tent’ ex­isted) was the prom­ise of a glimpse of what the next level looked like. The only way to ad­vance was through fa­mil­iar­ity, paid for by coin (or the currency of sus­tained ef­fort these days).

So when in Edge 291 Shuhei Yoshida ob­serves that, “The game de­sign of Dark

Souls has been a good an­tithe­sis to the in­dus­try norm,” he is fail­ing to ac­knowl­edge what ex­isted be­fore: a chal­leng­ing, thorny waste­land of dif­fi­culty. An­drew Hem­s­ley Yoshida’s point was about Dark Souls in the con­text of today’s gam­ing land­scape. But now you’ve made us re­mem­ber all those night­mar­ish Ghouls ’N’ Ghosts ses­sions way back in the late ’80s, and we’re cry­ing again.

Mind the gap

Are cross­plat­form fea­tures re­ally a good thing? Fall­out 4 mods came to Xbox One re­cently, and while the idea of con­sole play­ers get­ting some­thing that only PC own­ers pre­vi­ously had ac­cess to is great in the­ory, the re­al­ity’s been a bit of a mess. Mods cre­ated for the PC ver­sion have been stolen, ported and re­posted by ran­doms. Some have even asked for do­na­tions to sup­port their fu­ture non-work.

Street Fighter V’s cross­plat­form on­line play means a be­spoke user ID sys­tem with no voice chat and vary­ing lev­els of in­put lag on PC and PS4. Else­where, if it’s not sour­ing the ex­pe­ri­ence, it’s sim­ply killing the game, and some­times even the stu­dio that made it. Both Project Spark and Fable Leg­ends went the way of the dodo for a num­ber of rea­sons, but it’s tempt­ing to make the con­nec­tion. Ei­ther way, what once seemed an im­pos­si­ble dream is in­creas­ingly be­com­ing re­al­ity, but seems more likely to an­noy than to en­thrall. Alex Stevens In fu­ture, when peo­ple ask why the Edge web­site was closed, we’ll show them this.

A life well wasted

This year I have spent more time gam­ing than in the past few years com­bined. I’ve ded­i­cated hun­dreds of hours to puz­zles, head­shots, raids and in­cur­sions, all while rais­ing a daugh­ter, hold­ing down a full-time job, and try­ing not to ne­glect a very pa­tient and un­der­stand­ing wife.

I’ve had sim­i­lar pe­ri­ods of ‘in­tense’ gam­ing in the past – dur­ing school hol­i­days, when I should prob­a­bly have been play­ing out­side, and other times in my life where free time was plen­ti­ful and adult re­spon­si­bil­i­ties were for­tu­nately not. But there’s some­thing that sets my cur­rent gam­ing en­thu­si­asm apart from the good old days. Though I have played games ev­ery sin­gle day this year, I have played only two of them.

Specif­i­cally, Destiny: The Taken King and Tom Clancy’s The Divi­sion. Two games that are de­signed to keep a player hooked at the end of a some­times frag­ile line. I’ve been guilty in the past of rush­ing games in or­der to move on to the new big thing, search­ing for the next hit. My per­spec­tive seems to have shifted. Now I see my­self less as a ‘gamer’, and more as a mem­ber of some very spe­cific com­mu­ni­ties that hap­pen to be based around videogames.

I’m en­joy­ing these games on a deeper level, en­gag­ing with fo­rums, sub­red­dits and ex­tended lore. It feels nice to get off of the tread­mill of new re­leases and fo­cus on games I am truly pas­sion­ate about, turn­ing my life­long hobby into a smaller, more in­ti­mate ex­pe­ri­ence. I hear sim­i­lar sto­ries from the pas­sion­ate com­mu­ni­ties of DOTA 2 and

League Of Leg­ends. As gam­ing be­comes ever more main­stream, per­haps it will also be­come more and more niche, in or­der to cater to ev­ery­one’s in­ter­ests. Alan Jef­frey This kind of devotion is no bad thing. Un­less you have a pro­fes­sional duty to keep abreast of new re­leases, and col­leagues who wish they could talk to you about some­thing that isn’t Destiny. Or so we imag­ine, any­way.

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