E3 2019 – My picks for most excited news!

How’s that wallet feel? Mine is tensing up, but it’s not complaining. Yet.

Day one is done. So many announcements and things that I am looking forward to. There were only a few things I saw that I was ‘Meh’ about, but a lot of things were largely classified as ‘keep an eye on’.

But the things that got me excited and thinking the most? Well, they are below 🙂

Cyberpunk 2077

I used to play Cyberpunk back in the day. A pen and paper RPG, it was a great escape and showed me that sci-fi and fantasy are basically the same things.  Yes, they are, you know it’s true.

A year ago, I wrote a piece asking the Australian Film and Literature Classification Board to let me play Cyberpunk 2077. Drugs and other mature things are ingrained in this universe, and they have the power to refuse the game classification.

None of this has changed. What has changed is we know Cyberpunk 2077 releases April 16th, 2020. And it has Keanu Reeves. Yes, I have already preordered it on GoG.com.

XBOX Game Pass PC and Game Pass Ultimate

Last year I bought a second hand XBOX One S to play games I had missed with Game Pass. Last weekend, I bought a new XBOX One S because it was purple.

I haven’t had the time to really sit and play the games I have wanted to, but that is changing. Void Bastards has gotten some play time, and will be getting more this week probably. $10 a month for access to over 100 games? It’s a good deal. XBOX Gold? Not so much, as I am not playing multiplayer or really want to buy new games at a discount.

This may be the best sales idea Microsoft has ever had

But now, I can keep my XBOX Game Pass, have access to a bunch more games on PC, and have Gold and the 4 free games a month for $15 a month? Yes, I am already signed up.

Doom Eternal

I know Doom’s popularity is primarily from multiplayer, but the single-player campaign from the 2016 reboot was so much fun and felt just like the original Doom.

Doom Eternal, the new sequel, seems to be taking a new twist. Run around and blow up everything with a huge array of funky weapons? Yep, that’s still there.

But now apparently you (as Doomguy obviously) have got the attention of the heavens. Angelic combat, anyone?

Doom is not a subtle series, and I hope they keep this up. Either way, more Doom coming November 22nd, 2019.

Final Fantasy VII Remake

OK, it will just be the first ‘episode’, but we now have a release date for this long teased Square Enix favourite.

The new trailer shows even more Final Fantasy XV style combat, but by itself that doesn’t worry me. As I have said before, I am not one of the people asking for a straight remaster, so I am looking forward to seeing what Square Enix has done.

And I will find out March 3rd, 2020. Luckily it is the first ‘episode’ – Bloodlines 2 and Cyberpunk are right in this same time frame!

Project Scarlett and the cloud

This is an area I am not so much excited for, as keeping an eye on. Microsoft’s cloud gaming service turns your XBOX One into a local server – essentially download the game locally. Not a bad idea, but a new packaging on an existing idea.

The next gen console though. Hardware wise, Scarlett and the PS5 (if that’s what they call it) sound the same – new hardware with early access to PCI-E 5 technology to use ridiculous amounts of bandwidth internally.

So the gauntlet is thrown, Sony.

Tech upgrades aren’t necessarily a bad thing, but people balked at the price of the XBOX One X. These new consoles either have to be crazy expensive (comparatively), or the respective companies will be making a massive loss on initial sales – much more than previous generations.

Who is going to buy this straight away? Early adopters and mega fans sure, but for the first time possibly the PC gaming ‘master class’ that has previously snubbed consoles.

The number of people that dropped around AUD$1,500 – 2,000 for the Nvidia 20×0 series before the specs were even confirmed was ridiculous. Having early access to new storage tech and the apparent blazing load times, this is a key area where PC players cite that PC beats consoles.

I am not saying that console gaming is about to make PC gaming obsolete or anything like that.  But the market for people who will throw massive amounts of money because a single number marks it as ‘the best’ has grown significantly, and I am wondering if the traditional console war is finally on the way out.

Want to play old games? Depending on your platform, you can buy them again, have some backwards compatibility or streaming. If you are lucky enough to be in an area that PlayStation Now exists. (Yes, shots fired. Stop advertising things to me you know I can’t access Sony!).

Want to play new games without expensive hardware? Stream them. You will need the internet that only about 8 countries in the world can provide, but there is no doubt that streaming content is the future.

Hardware wise, the XBOX and PlayStations are basically identical these days (yes there are differences, but they are now AMD computers with different tweaks in a broad sense). Nintendo has always done its own thing, and look at the success of the Switch.

But now more than ever before, the content is what the war is about, not the hardware. On the PC, Epic has paid for exclusive deals on big titles to woo people over. Microsoft has made it all but a no brainer for people to just hand over $15 a month, and look how much Netflix makes from the same deal. Sony is still as stubborn as ever in its ways, but that might give Microsoft an advantage.

I don’t think the end goal for hardware like Scarlett and PS5 is as focused on getting hardware to the masses anymore. That will be handled by streaming onto comparatively lower spec machines.

But that goal is still probably 5-10 years away. If you want to play the new games and don’t have access to streaming, these high-end machines could put gaming out of your reach.

It will be an interesting 12 months to see what Sony and Microsoft do about all this.

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Two games I want are out today – but the Steam Summer Sale is coming

One game that’s semi-free, and one I can play in VR freedom

So Tuesday I wrote about Void Bastards and how I was looking forward to giving it a play.

This morning, I checked Game Pass before coming in to work and there it was! I don’t see it on the Microsoft store, so playing on XBox it is.

It is available on Steam for AUS$43 (alright, $42.95) so if you want to play it on PC that’s the way to do it right now.

From everything I have seen so far, this is a title I am hoping will make it’s way to the Switch – but I will wait until I have given it a play before confirming that wish.

You can grab it now as well! Included in Game Pass, and on Steam.

I do think I will prefer Void Bastards on PC with keyboard and mouse, but if the controls work well having it handheld sounds amazing.

Either way, all going well I will give it a try tonight.  This weekend for sure.

And if I can finish setting everything up properly, I might even capture some video of my playing 🙂

The gangs all here. Oh great. All of them? Really?

Another title that is now available on Steam (coincidentally also for AUD$43) or AUD$45 on the PlayStation Store is the heart attack inducing Five Nights at Freddy’s VR: Help Wanted.

I really want to give this one a try.  I went through the first three Freddy games back in the day but started to not throw myself at them for everything else.  Combination of time and stress I was already under.

I am a little torn with FNAF VR. It’s going to be stressful, and jump scares are an integral part of the franchise.

But I just got my wireless Vive adaptor, so no cables to trip me up.

What do you think FNAF fans? PS4 for the Platinum, or Steam VR for the wireless freedom?

Either way, I don’t think I will be making any Steam purchases for four weeks.  Traditionally, the Steam Summer Sale is just before Australia’s end of financial year.  Even though both games are new, some dollars off is some dollars off – which can be used to buy more games!

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Void Bastards is coming this week – this could be frustratingly fun

Not all shooters are run and gun affairs.  Why back in my day…

I love it when a title in a random email catches my eye.  Yesterday, it was a game called Void Bastards, described as a mix between FTL and System Shock 2.

How could I possibly not check it out?

So have a look around I did, and I was met with this trailer:

So a lot of positives happened immediately to make me look forward to Void Bastards.

Firstly, the narrator is Kevan Brighting, the same wonderful voice that saw you through The Stanley Parable.  That’s a giggle right there.

Secondly, when you met up with a bad guy and got blotted, the whole ‘Client Expired’ scenario definitely had me looking for even more of the humour in the trailer. And it’s there. This looks like a game that will be fun to watch being played at the very least.

But while there is a lot of humour evident, I can’t help but think that will be to offset the potential frustration of the game.

Cartoony graphics and jokes aside, this is a fully strategic, plan your attack style game like the old Rainbow Six games. The small amount of gameplay I have watched keeps the old adage alive – no plan survives contact with the enemy.

The impression I have so far is you will have to learn the rules and plan well for a variety of situations.  A rougelike generation of ships and levels means you will need to learn what is happening for your particular game, and no two games should be the same.

You will need the right tools for the job. I just never expected a job where I needed a robot kitty.
I am trying to figure out if that's a good sound or not...

Void Bastards is definitely a game I want to check out, but I was a little disappointed that Steam shows it as coming on the 29th of May (so not long to wait!) but no price.

Then I had a bit of good news – Void Bastards is coming to Game Pass on the same day!  So tonight I will update my XBOX and prep for tomorrows release.

I am hoping this is going to be one of the Microsoft ‘Play Anywhere’ titles though – I have a feeling I will prefer playing this on PC, but a free game (with Game Pass) is nothing to complain about!

I don’t know if Void Bastards will be a nice diversion or a deceptive time sink, but I am expecting the latter. Either way, I am really looking forward to firing it up and giving it a good look.

It also doesn’t hurt that Blue Manchu games, the developers of Void Bastards, is headquartered in Australia. I always enjoy seeing our games industry make a splash big enough to come to my attention, especially when I am not looking for it.

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Sea of Thieves comes out today! Play it on PC for almost nothing!

Sea of Thieves Logo

I always said the Shenanigans are eternal here 🙂

So the chances of me playing Sea of Thieves today is incredibly small.  I didn’t give in to temptation and buy the XBOX One X, and I have a work thing tonight so I won’t be playing then either.

But I thought to myself I can put it on my PC at least!  And for free(ish) as well.

I already technically have an XBOX account, as it’s just a normal Microsoft Account.  Now Sea of Thieves is kind of an XBOX exclusive, but it is a Play Anywhere title with their new initiative so as long as I have a Game Pass and probably XBOX Live Gold for multiplayer, I should be all set.

So this morning I set up for the 14-day Game Pass trial.  Done no issues, painless experience.  I don’t set up Gold, wait and see if I need it (which I probably will).  Go to the Microsoft Store, and there waiting for me:

Sea of Thieves Install

So by the time I have to go to work today, I will at least have Sea of Thieves preinstalled on my PC to give it a go.  The store seems to be being a bit hammered this morning though, I am downloading about a quarter of what I should be getting from the store, but it’s day one release and all and a preinstall so I’m not worried.  Be careful if you’re waiting to do this and play straight away though, you could have a wait.

Sea of Thieves Installing

Hopefully, sometime in the next couple of nights, I will be able to play and see what Sea of Thieves is like for myself.  But if you can try it out (especially with the essentially free 2 weeks with the possible exception of XBOX Live Gold) please do and let me know what you think!

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Sea of Thieves revealed the risk and reward of the bargain seas

Sea of Thieves Logo

Sea of Thieves used to be my nickname for the legal department. Well alright it still is, but…

So this morning I remembered that Sea of Thieves comes out ‘Soon’. Now for me, ‘Soon’ is indeed a magical time that can be tomorrow (it happens) or 2 years ago (e.g. Star Trek Beyond). So I fired up the Google and this time, ‘Soon’ means in about a week – March 20th to be exact!

Sea of Thieves looks like a great bit of fun. Online streamers have been showing how much of a great time they have been having in the beta for a couple of months now. It’s one of those times when I can have gameplay happening in the background while I am working, and simply enjoy the sounds happening off to the side.

I am not going to describe Sea of Thieves too much, as I am pretty sure anyone already interested in it will already know about it. For those that need a catch-up, the ‘Be More Pirate’ trailer should bring you up to speed quickly enough:

Most of my video game time has been playing Destiny 2 with a mate. It’s been fun, but I think we are both hitting the Destiny ‘again’ grind wall. Bungie has disappointed me and indeed a large portion of the Destiny fanbase by making the same mistakes as the original Destiny, and while it’s still a fun game, my eye has been wandering a little.

I am not an online multiplayer type person as a general rule. But playing regularly with my mate and indeed the clan has been a much great experience, so I want to keep it going. While I enjoyed a few rounds of Splatoon 2 on the Switch and we could both get around the voice chat limitations easily enough, I wouldn’t suggest he buy a Switch just for that game, and Sea of Thieves seemed to be something we could both be interested in. And so, the irony begins.

Sea of Thieves Art

My next Google search this morning was ‘sea of thieves how many players per ship’. The idea was to see what a max crew count was and put the word out maybe to a couple of other people so we could start with a full crew straight off the bat. It looks like four people, meaning we want maybe 6-8 for a mix of players for when availability drops, or just to have access to two fully crewed boats.

Then I looked at the price. Normally I just log straight into EB Games, but for some reason, I hit the Google this time. It was here that a piece of news I had all but forgotten about was placed right in front of me – XBOX Game Pass.

XBOX Game Pass

The idea behind the XBOX Game Pass sounds great – about $10 a month, and access to a huge library of games, and day one access to Microsoft exclusive games, including Sea of Thieves.

I had mused with the idea of grabbing a second-hand XBOX in January to try out the Game Pass and see how it faired. XBOX is a console I skipped just like the early Nintendo family. XBOX didn’t overly interest me as I have always had a fairly decent gaming PC and very few exclusives on the platform interested me.

I always understood why the people that bought both consoles did so – if you can have both, why not? But it wasn’t for me. But just like the mini Nintendo consoles give me a window of opportunity to games I missed in the past, I thought the Game Pass might do the same for XBOX. Looking through the library, it was certainly a possibility.

XBOX Game Pass Library

So then I finally jumped onto the EB Games site and had a look at their console deals. I could pick up various flavours of the XBOX One S brand new for under $400, which under the circumstances is more than fair. I decided for that price a second hand wasn’t even really worth it.

But if the Game Pass included upcoming new exclusives, surely the XBOX One X would be the preferred platform? Beefier hardware, better performance overall, maybe it would be worth making the extra investment now? That’s when the banner swung to this:

XBOX One X EB Deal

Now the extra controller is worth $100 on its own, and it works with Windows 10 out of the box with Bluetooth. I have a Steam controller, and while it works well,  it has never really struck me as the most comfortable of controllers. I can plug in my PS4 controller, but somehow to me that has always felt wrong. Not physically – the Dualshocks have always fit well in my hands, but making the mental mind mapping from the flashing ‘Press B’ on the screen to the circle button on the controller.

So $650 was looking like quite a reasonable deal for essentially $200 worth of controller and a beefy mid-range gaming PC. Of course, being XBOX means I need XBOX Live Gold so I can play multiplayer, so add another $80 to that so I can play online for a year. Then, I would need the actual Game Pass itself – another $11.

It’s then I realised what had happened. I went looking for information on a game with an RRP of $100, and came close to talking myself into a purchase of almost $750 AS A GOOD DEAL!

Sea of Thieves Finding Treasure.jpg

It’s no secret that Playstation won this console generation. Don’t get me wrong – Nintendo has an amazing and well-deserved amount of success with the Switch, and I love mine. For a lot of games, I can see the Switch being my console of choice going forward, and this means that both Microsoft and Sony will have a lot of catch up when the next console generation is announced. That particular topic I can talk about a fair bit, and may another time.

But for this future catch up with both Sony and Nintendo, Microsoft has started the journey with some great strides. To turn my interest in a single game to highlight the ongoing value proposition of buying their hardware now is a great feat, and this value will only increase as Microsoft continues down this path.

Of course, that’s assuming Microsoft does continue down this path. It’s not like they have a history of dropping the ball at all.

Until next time,

JohnHQLD