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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?
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
Regarding the letter titles in E295’ s Dispatches section: very good.
The person responsible has been given a pay rise. (In Great British pounds, sadly.)