Di­a­logue

Send your views, us­ing ‘Di­a­logue’ as the sub­ject line, to edge@fu­turenet.com. Our let­ter of the month wins a New Nin­tendo 3DS XL, sup­plied by the Nin­tendo UK store

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

Or­a­cle of rages

For once, my let­ter to Edge is not prompted by an ar­ti­cle in your fine mag­a­zine. I just watched the PlaySta­tion con­fer­ence at E3 and I’m so dis­ap­pointed as to be bor­der­line an­gry! Not Don­ald Trump an­gry, but close…

Firstly, the hard­ware: lots of talk about PSVR but no men­tion of PS4K (or Neo or PS4.5 or what­ever they end up call­ing it), no con­fir­ma­tion, no specs, not even a hint of a re­lease date. Con­sid­er­ing that every se­ri­ous gamer knows that PSVR will be a sub­par ex­pe­ri­ence with the ‘old-spec’ PS4, this is not just clumsy, it’s down­right dis­re­spect­ful. Where did “this is for the play­ers” go?

Se­condly, the games. Where do I start? Per­haps where they started: for the first ten sec­onds of the show, I thought I was watch­ing the re­mas­tered Skyrim. OK, I had no­ticed some weird red tat­toos on the main pro­tag­o­nist, which seemed odd, but other than that, noth­ing. The tran­quil for­est, the snow­capped peaks in the dis­tance, the dragons, the generic Nordic feel of it all… I know that im­i­ta­tion is the high­est form of flat­tery, but this looked so much like to­tal at­ro­phy of the imag­i­na­tion that I ac­tu­ally felt sorry for Sony Santa Mon­ica.

The rest of the lineup didn’t ex­actly fill me with en­thu­si­asm, ei­ther: more beau­ti­fully ren­dered en­vi­ron­ments spoiled by hordes of zom­bies ( Days Gone), and some­thing that looked like The Last-Gen Guardian. As for the clip of Hori­zon Zero Dawn, what it told me is that for all its aes­thetic and (pos­si­bly) nar­ra­tive orig­i­nal­ity, it would play like some­thing of a fran­tic cross­over be­tween Far Cry and Mon­ster Hunter. It pains me to ad­mit that Call Of Duty: In­fi­nite War­fare looked the best and most in­no­va­tive game of the bunch, which is rather telling, in a sorry kind of way.

Where are the Life Is Stranges and No Man’s Skys of pre­vi­ous E3 con­fer­ences? I’ll be hon­est, I hadn’t no­ticed Dontnod’s fan­tas­tic ti­tle back then, but hav­ing played it since, and de­spite its flaws, it’s eas­ily one the most sub­tle and in­tel­li­gent games of the past few years. And not­with­stand­ing its most re­cent de­lay, No Man’s Sky still re­tains the po­ten­tial to be a truly mind-ex­pand­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

And this sums up my prob­lem, re­ally: noth­ing at E3 2016, at least in Sony’s show, dis­played any sub­tlety or in­tel­li­gence, or gave me any sense of an­tic­i­pa­tion. It was all mind­less, repet­i­tive vi­o­lence ( God Of War, Days Gone, Call Of Duty) or mean­ing­less

sen­ti­men­tal­ism ( The Last Guardian, the baf­fling teaser for Ko­jima’s Death Strand­ing), all cov­ered with some glis­ten­ing vir­tu­al­re­al­ity frost­ing. Does the in­dus­try only cater for bru­tal thugs with­out a brain or equally wit­less misty-eyed pan­sies these days? And are we so eas­ily swept off our feet by the lat­est gizmo that main­stream pro­duc­ers and devel­op­ers can get away with feed­ing us in­creas­ingly dumb and un­o­rig­i­nal con­tent?

Fabrice Saf­fre

If this is how you felt about Sony’s con­fer­ence, we’d be in­ter­ested to know what you thought about Mi­crosoft’s. This year’s event did feel a lit­tle light on indie break­outs, though. Per­haps this is cycli­cal, and 2017’s will de­liver the goods.

A link be­tween worlds

I was wor­ried about VR. Not be­cause I’m 40 or that VR is new or a po­ten­tially cor­rupt­ing in­flu­ence. I’m not hav­ing my videogame ‘old-man-mo­ment’ – I’m pretty sure Twitch took care of that some time ago. Rather, I was wor­ried be­cause I didn’t see the ap­peal of the soft­ware.

Videogames are my pri­mary hobby, and I fol­low all as­pects of the in­dus­try. Even though my pre­ferred games oc­cupy only a small por­tion of the mar­ket, I take a big

“I fear pub­lish­ers of smaller nin­er­ated games will di­min­ish and never be heard of again”

in­ter­est in the many di­rec­tions the in­dus­try takes, and I love how di­verse it is. Ul­ti­mately, though, when I sit down to play a videogame, I’m not al­ways af­ter im­mer­sion or story. Some­times I just want to play a game.

Vir­tual re­al­ity’s main sell­ing point is im­mer­sion. But a world of cock­pit sim­u­la­tions, first­per­son walk­ers and ob­ject push­ers does not ap­peal to me. VR is a plat­form and, in or­der to be suc­cess­ful, it must sup­port a di­verse range of ex­pe­ri­ences through its soft­ware. So I shrugged my shoul­ders and hoped I might some­day find a way that VR and a guy like me could be rel­e­vant to each other.

And I’m happy to say I did af­ter read­ing about BigScreen, a free down­load on Steam that’s cur­rently in Beta for HTC and Vive. At its most basic, it places you in a vir­tual space and projects your desk­top to a vir­tual screen. With friends. And their screens. For some­one like me, it’s es­sen­tially a vir­tual couch LAN. Add in a cap­ture card and you have ac­cess to con­sole gaming as well. From here it’s only a small men­tal leap to a vir­tual ar­cade, which, along with other sim­i­lar so­cial ex­pe­ri­ences, are what the vi­sion­ar­ies must have seen the po­ten­tial for all along. Long live videogames, and all their di­ver­sity.

An­drew Low

VR is sup­posed to mean dif­fer­ent things to dif­fer­ent peo­ple, so surely this was in­evitable. Don’t turn your back on other ap­pli­ca­tions, though – right now, we’re only a few small steps down the VR road.

A link to the passed

I think peo­ple are scared. Scared of try­ing some­thing new. When I looked at Edge 294, I saw your highly scored re­view of Stephen’s

Sausage Roll, and from what I read and what I’ve seen about it, it does look like it de­serves the nine rat­ing you gave it. So I went and did some re­search about the sales that the joint-high­est-scor­ing game in that is­sue had achieved. I found that 3,254 peo­ple own the game on Steam, and an av­er­age of around ten peo­ple per day play the game. That’s 3,254 play­ers for a game that achieved a nine from you, and a 90 per cent Me­tas­core. How does this make sense?

By con­trast, Tom Clancy’s The Di­vi­sion scored six in Edge 292. 774,699 peo­ple own the game on Steam, and around 13,000 peo­ple are play­ing the game every day, three to four months on from launch. Over three­quar­ters of a mil­lion peo­ple have this game on Steam, and Stephen’s Sausage Roll has just about ex­ceeded a cou­ple of thou­sand play­ers.

I don’t think this adds up. The Di­vi­sion is from a pop­u­lar se­ries, a pop­u­lar pub­lisher and a pop­u­lar genre, that ev­ery­one knows. Whereas Stephen’s Sausage Roll is a brand­new game, from an un­known pub­lisher, and in a less pop­u­lar genre. I think this is slightly un­fair on In­cre­pare Games. Now, I fear for more games to fol­low in

Stephen’s path. Be­fore, which you pre­viewed in Edge 295, looks gor­geous. How­ever, I can see its sales as de­cent but not amaz­ing ei­ther.

Bat­tle­field 1, which you also pre­viewed last is­sue, doesn’t sound as good, but I can al­ready tell you that it will top the charts on re­lease and will have mil­lions of play­ers.

In fact, I fear for games that are dif­fer­ent and try some­thing new. I fear that one day, videogames and con­soles will al­ways play host to the same, repet­i­tive games. And I fear that pub­lish­ers of smaller nine-rated games will di­min­ish and never be heard of again. This, sadly, is the head­ing that videogames seem to be on.

James Bald­win

Well, the puz­zle genre is hardly short of fans – es­pe­cially on mo­bile nowa­days. How would SSR fare re­con­fig­ured as an iOS game? In the ab­sence of a Ubisoft-scale mar­ket­ing bud­get, per­haps it would fal­ter that way, too, which is the awk­ward re­al­ity fac­ing so many game creators in 2016.

Spirit track­suit

The older you get, the more the guilt creeps in. Play­ing games is wast­ing time. At least that’s what I thought, un­til some­thing strange hap­pened: I ap­plied ev­ery­thing I’d learnt from Dark Souls to run­ning.

I’ve never been big on sport, IRL or on con­sole; ex­er­cise, un­til re­cently, was mostly walk­ing or run­ning for the oc­ca­sional bus. Fol­low­ing a re­cent bout of ill­ness, some­thing had to change, and it all clicked one af­ter­noon. I was play­ing Dark Souls III when, af­ter an­other fate­ful foray into the Cat­a­combs Of Carathus, some­thing com­pelled me to put down my con­troller and lace up my train­ers.

Like Dark Souls, run­ning is hard. I have tried to make it ha­bit­ual in the past, but had al­ways given up. This time was dif­fer­ent. I set my ex­pec­ta­tions low and fo­cused on one level – er, cir­cuit – which I add to with suc­ces­sive at­tempts.

Like Dark Souls, there’s no mu­sic. I’d rather lis­ten to foot­falls and my ragged breath as I kept an eye on the stamina bar. I am yet to find any good item drops on my run, but progress is its own re­ward, and every time I run a lit­tle far­ther, it feels good. I know my strength stats are in­creas­ing, and per­haps my in­tel­li­gence, too.

There is a med­i­ta­tive qual­ity to the Souls games that I’d never have thought would amount to any real-world ben­e­fits. There’s virtue in monotony. And now you can find me ei­ther on the couch bat­tling Pon­tiff Knights, or in the park dodg­ing small fluffy dogs. Praise the run!

Jonty Bell

Ah, if only you could get hold of a Clo­ran­thy ring. In its ab­sence, have this ex­tremely por­ta­ble 3DS in­stead, to help you squeeze in some play­ing time while you train.

Sky­ward words

Re­gard­ing the let­ter ti­tles in E295’ s Dis­patches sec­tion: very good.

Alex White­side

The per­son re­spon­si­ble has been given a pay rise. (In Great Bri­tish pounds, sadly.)

Is­sue 295

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