January 2021 Highlights

For a lot of people, the highlight was just ending 2020. But there are a few things I am keeping my eye on in January!

It’s a new year, and we have all been looking forward to that. But that magical January 1st has come and gone, so it’s time for the monthly highlights of what I am looking forward to this month!

CES 2021

The annual Consumer Electronics Show is something that I enjoy keeping an eye on every year. It’s a grand reveal for lots of different trends coming for the year.

One of the things I really like about it is that it’s not really focused on anything other than ‘consumer’ items. This includes TVs, refrigerators, air conditioners and yes computer stuff is front and centre. Well, traditionally computer tech has had a prominent spot at CES. 2020 proved that companies can show off their new items on their own successfully.

What am I looking forward to seeing? Ridiculously priced TVs showing features that will be considered ‘standard’ in a few years. Power saving and efficiency gains over the previous year from different products.

This AUD$60,000 8K TV is ridiculously priced, until you remember that in a few years this will be 'normal'

And of course, new model laptops that I have been waiting to see for almost two years. Not the latest CPU/GPU combinations – while exciting, that’s not what has me interested. Primarily I want to see if laptop designers have finally come up with a new cooling system.

One issue I have with laptops over the past couple of years is performance. The chips are capable of a lot, but the cooling has been the same for several years and hasn’t kept pace. So while your 8 core mobile processor can rival desktop performance, thermal limitations have been the biggest obstacle.

The inevitable introduction of the Geforce RTX 3000 series mobile will only make this even worse, as performance has been gained by increasing power limits and inevitably heat. It will be interesting to see what is shown at CES this year.

While not for everyone, CES is a great way to see how the envelope of laptop design is being pushed

TIME Stories Revolution (or the Blue Cycle)

Oh boy. I didn’t think I would be coming back here. I am sure this feeling of dread and hope makes TIME Stories a highlight, doesn’t it?

OK, so technically not a January release, but January is when I will be taking the plunge. My ultimate disappointment in the original ‘White’ cycle of TIME Stories can be found here.

The ‘Blue’ cycle attempts to fix this by making each scenario standalone. This is made abundantly clear in the description of each game. The gameplay has also apparently been streamlined, something that would be welcomed.

So, I have ordered the first two games in the cycle – The Hadal Project and A Midsummer Night. There is no ‘order’ to this new series, so I will probably play the title whoever is playing with me prefers first.

I am leaning to The Hadal Project to start. Gotta love that Sci-Fi world.

One thing that the original series had me looking forward to was the overall metastory. Space Cowboys found a way to include this in the Blue cycle with an optional expansion – the Experience kit. I have nabbed this as well to see how that stacks up.

Because The Experience is preprinted, I have hope. It means that the Blue Cycle must be reasonably fleshed out and planned. I won’t be waiting on someone to upload webpages or similar to pull me out of the moment when completing a game.

Time will tell. I hope that Space Cowboys has turned around the TIME Stories Experience with this new iteration. Still, honestly, these two titles are make or break for me.

The first punch to my confidence is actually the Space Cowboys website. If you click on the link for The Hadel Project, you get taken to The Marcy Case from the White Cycle. And there is no link for A Midsummer Night.

Let’s see how it goes!

Hitman 3

Oh Agent 47, you glorious stealth death machine. The Hitman series is one I have wandered in and out of over the years. It is more than fair to say that some games in the series have been better than others.

As a fan of the stealth genre, Hitman has always been an excellent time for me. Spending an hour or more just walking around a level, getting a feel for where everything (and everyone) is can be very relaxing.

The sneak/plan/execute gameplay formula can be incredibly satisfying. It’s right up there with pulling off a perfect 100 dodge combo in fighting games or soloing a raid for the first time in Destiny. That said, it’s not for everyone. You will probably see on Friday where I stand on this.

There is a bit of a cloud over the release of Hitman 3 for me though. It’s not the game – that looks amazing in itself. No, my issue is the way Sony has handled PSVR and the PS5.

I still have my PS4 Pro and my PSVR, so I can take advantage of the included VR missions. What I can’t do is play with PSVR on my PS5. I have applied and apparently been sent my adaptor to do this, but it’s currently 6 weeks overdue. There is no way of asking Sony where it is or if I can be sent another (even at a cost).

So, do I play Hitman 3 only on my PS4 with the VR missions, or just stick with the PS5 version knowing I am missing something I have wanted for years? First world problems. They can be the worst. :p

I doubt the saves are compatible, but confirmation on if I can play on PS5 and drop back to PS4 for the VR could be the tipping point for me. Either way, expect to see Hitman 3 crop up in Last Week’s Gaming probably in February.

The Medium

I don’t know if you will see The Medium pop up in my Last Week’s Gaming any time soon, but it is a game I am curious about. The reason for the interest is for quite a few reasons.

For one, I am intrigued to see what Bloober Team can do after the indie feeling Layers of Fear. There is a lot of marketing push for a psychological horror. The visuals in the trailers are leaps beyond Layers of Fear. And then there is the gameplay premise.

You play a medium (hence the title) that can travel in the spirit world, while also being active in the ‘real’ world. While this sounds relatively standard – exploring another world as another ‘level’ has been done before, The Medium is different.

You can explore both worlds at the same time. That’s right – you can basically play split-screen by yourself.

There is a PC version, but The Medium is an Xbox Series X/S console exclusive. Side note – this whole ‘console exclusive’ being used in the new generation is really bugging me.

As I only have the Xbox One X/S, I won’t be playing this on console on launch. I might pick up the PC version, but as I am trying to get through my gaming backlog, not straight away. But I will be keenly watching reviews and trying to get gameplay thoughts, maybe even a stream or two if some appear.

Until next time,

JohnHQLD
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