The Outer Worlds Review

The Outer Worlds Cover Art
The Outer Worlds Cover Art
Released 2019 (Switch 2020)
Platform Nintendo Switch
PlayStation 4
Xbox One
Windows
Publisher Obidian Entertainment (Website)
Developer Obidian Entertainment (Website)
Homepage (Visit Website)
Players 1
Category Open World (Hub World)
Adventure
RPG
Sci-Fi

Bethesda doesn’t like it when you call The Outer Worlds ‘Fallout in Space’. That will be because The Outer Worlds isn’t a Bethesda game.

Last year, I wrote about The Outer Worlds in a few Last Week’s Gaming articles. I inhaled this game. As a fan of the Fallout games, I was keen on seeing Obsidian’s take on a new world to explore.

This review was delayed partly because I played The Outer Worlds on Xbox with Game Pass, and my plan was always to buy it on Switch upon release and do a review. Launch delays, and the game coming to Switch just as I started getting busy work-wise, meant that this is a review long in the making.

Before I talk about the game, I am going to get the Switch comparison out of the way.

Like The Witcher 3: Complete Edition, there are visual sacrifices. The Switch is an impressive piece of hardware, but it’s not in the same class as the ‘proper’ consoles in terms of raw power.

There are texture popping issues, and frame rates dip when a lot of characters are in an area. A fight with about 8-10 enemies (which happens a couple of times in the first world), my guess is about 15-18 frames per second in handheld mode? I can only estimate from feel, but the dips are apparent, and if you are in melee combat, this will make things harder than ranged combat.

That said, I am now about 40% complete on Switch, and I have played almost exclusively in handheld mode. Yes, I have had to reload because of the fights I have lost. But I had to do that on the Xbox One S as well. General exploration and gameplay have been fun, and everything works well overall.

The Outer Worlds Sign Not Loaded In Properly
It looks worse when on a big screen, but the sign is only 'half loaded' - this is an example of texture popping

My biggest complaint is the ‘fuzziness’ of the screen when playing in handheld mode. The game is compensating for lower performance by dropping the resolution. When exploring the open world, it’s almost impossible to tell a tree from a human enemy at a distance. It’s not game-breaking, but I was using my gun scope to look at trees a lot!

I also have not seen any of the ‘loading circles’ mid-game other people complaining about at any time. I don’t know why. I have the eShop (downloaded) version, but I do have a slightly overkill for Switch SD card. The exact card from Amazon is: Samsung 512GB 100MB/s (U3) MicroSDXC Evo Select Memory Card with Adapter (MB-ME512GA/AM).

I am not trying to say this is the best card for Switch or anything like that, but if your using a slower card, maybe that is part of the problem? A lot of information needs to be loaded into the world, and a slower card may cause these pauses in play. But because I didn’t experience the issue, it’s a semi-educated guess.

Switch SD Card
This card is overkill normally for the Switch, but I got it on sale. Maybe my game isn't waiting for loads?

So should I play The Outer Worlds on Switch?

It’s a hard one. I am going to finish The Outer Worlds a couple more times at least, playing with different skill builds and faction responses. 

This week, I had an in-person meeting. The drive had the potential for a lot of traffic, but it was a good drive, and I got there pretty early. Being able to pull out my Switch and do a couple of quest steps and put it away was great.

Again, like The Witcher on Switch, being able to play wherever I am in short bursts like this is the primary benefit. The longest session I played continuously was about 3 hours, and I had to plug the charger in.

If you only have a Switch, you will enjoy playing The Outer Worlds. If you primarily want to play in docked mode and have a PS4/Xbox One (or a gaming PC), I would stick to those versions. The experience is better, but the gameplay is identical.

The Outer Worlds Ada is dissapointed
The humour is present throughout the game, often much more subtly than this

OK, so what is The Outer Worlds?

The Outer Worlds in a lot of ways is a typical RPG adventure. You play a character and become the hero to some and the enemy of others.

The story begins in a way I really enjoy. Short version, two colony ships were sent into the far reaches of space. Everyone was cryogenically frozen for the trip, and the idea was that a new solar system would be terraformed and inhabited.

Things didn’t quite go to plan, and one ship (The Hope) didn’t quite make it. All of the colonists are still in hibernation, and instead of being frozen for 10 years, you are woken up 70 years later.

The Outer Worlds Phineas Welles
You are 'rescued' by fugitive scientist Phneas Welles. Help him, or turn him in - it's up to you

From here, you set out to explore the new worlds. You can try and save everyone from the greedy corporations, or join them and make life very comfortable for yourself. The choice is yours.

Because your character is coming in effectively 60 years late, asking why the world works the way it does makes sense in the narrative. On my first playthrough, I asked everyone everything I could to learn about the world. The second time, I knew which questions to ask, and skipped asking about the corporations or who certain characters are.

The Outer Worlds Opening The Hatch - Switch
The first glimpse of a new world, as shown on the Switch. Now, it's up to you.

What The Outer Worlds isn’t.

It’s not Fallout. Obsidian developed Fallout: New Vegas, a game that on launch I couldn’t play. It was so full of game-breaking bugs I just had to stop. Over time, all of these issues were fixed, and New Vegas became so polished, too many it’s considered the best Fallout game to date.

There are very similar mechanics though, so the comparison for Fallout players is unfortunately natural. You can slow time instead of using the V.A.T.S. system, some conversations lead to side quests, and those quests can end in different ways with the choices you make.

While there is a lot of combat in the game, it’s also not a shooter or first-person combat game. You can solve a lot of problems with violence, but you can also talk your way through a lot of situations. If you have science skill, you can also use that to help/hurt people (and yourself).

The Outer Worlds Time Dilation
When you use Time Dilation, everything slows down and you get some extra tactical information

Fallout was built on 7 character statistics – the S.P.E.C.I.A.L. system. The Outer Worlds has expanded the character customisation, but also made it still streamlined for a baseline experience.

But what do you do in the game?

Here is where it gets tricky. On the first world of Edgewater, you need a power regulator to repair your ship and leave the planet. Everyone does this, and it’s why I concentrate on only showing this world.

But even with this seemingly linear opening act, you can choose very different ways of reaching your own goal. You can help the people there or make more money supporting some more selfish characters.

You can help the settlement overall, or you can help a single faction for short term goals and let the colony suffer in the long term. Things you set in motion at this early stage can open choices later in the game – or close them.

The Outer Worlds Edgewater Summary
This is how my shenanigans in Edgewater ended. How will yours look?

Oh no, I don’t want an early choice to ruin the game for me!

It won’t. Unlike some adventure games I have played, there is no ‘critical’ choice you can make very early on. You will see the options being laid out, but it will be at least 8 hours in before you can commit to a path.

Character creation follows this methodology as well. You are presented with a screen full of statistics, but until you hit a level of 50 in a branch, you upgrade all skills within. From there, you can choose to specialise in particular areas. For example, you can increase ranged weapons to 50, but then decide to specialise in handguns. You can still use the other weapons without handicaps – you just don’t get any bonuses either.

The Outer Worlds Character Creation
It looks like a lot to keep track of, but the charcter system is very simple and helps you experiment

OK. So why would I want to play The Outer Worlds? You haven’t talked much about that.

It’s tough to talk about The Outer Worlds in detail without either a) spoilers or b) talking about potential story areas you might not see.

The Outer Worlds has a lot of humour to it, but it also has a story that can be as deep as you want it to be. The overall story is about corporate greed, but how you explore this storyline is up to you. You can play the game ignoring the lore, or you can explore deeper and form bonds with your crew and NPCs.

Bottom line, if you enjoy sci-fi and open-world RPGs, The Outer Worlds is a game that should be on your radar.

The Outer Worlds - Loading Screen
I love the style and humour in these loading screens

If you have a PC/Xbox and Game Pass and are on the fence, grab it on Game Pass. You don’t need a ‘great’ video card to play The Outer Worlds on PC, so even if you try it out before buying it for PS4/Switch you will have a great idea of what you are getting into.

Overall Thoughts

Take all the best elements of playing Fallout: New Vegas, and move it into a new environment. Multiple quests, character stats that allow you to play differently, faction relationships – it’s all here.

The Outer Worlds still isn’t perfect. For example, defeated enemies can disappear, making quests impossible to complete. Some of the choices you get are very black and white – not every storyline has nuance.

But if you enjoy a semi-open ended adventure, The Outer Worlds is a fantastic start to hopefully a new franchise.

Best play experience order – PC (mid-high tier graphics card) > PS4/Xbox One > Switch. That said, The Outer Worlds is enjoyable on every platform. The Switch version has the most visual sacrifices, but you can play it anywhere – it’s a pretty good trade-off.

Overall
9/10
9/10

Pros

  • Solid (if cliched) story
  • Plenty of player choice in story and upgrade system
  • Great atmosphere overall
  • Combat isn’t deep, so don’t need to be great at shooters to do well
  • Replayable for different endings/character types
  • On Game Pass if you want to try/play that way

Cons

  • Not a lot of enemy types
  • Hub style open world – lots of loading screens
  • You can get quest breaking bugs, especially when enemies you need to loot vanish.

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

How a PlayStation 5 rumour could ‘fix’ PlayStation Now for everyone

But PlayStation Now isn’t broken? Or is it? No, it’s just not out yet. But is it? WHAT IS THIS!

With the next generation consoles looming on the horizon, gamers everywhere are looking at what could be. Rumours fly around at an insane pace. Some are presented as such, some are clickbait. It would be best if you never put your faith in a rumour until the company in question confirms it.

And I am going to semi-break that advice while I cross my fingers and hope for new features in an existing service. It’s only semi-break because I am not counting on it happening, just “Wouldn’t it be cool if”.

Everything I am outlining is dependant on one rumour being true, then Sony making individual business decisions. This is an “I wish” discussion, not a report on what Sony is doing.

Anyway, now that’s all clear, some history.

What is PlayStation Now?

Short version, PlayStation Now is Sony’s version of Google Stadia. That came out first. To get around the complaints of the lack of backwards compatibility, Sony introduced the service in 2014 for North America. Within 18 months, access was added to the UK, then Europe and finally Japan.

For a monthly fee, you can play PS2, PS3 and PS4 games on your PS4 or PC. As the games are streamed to your device, all you need is a compatible controller. You can even use an Xbox controller for most games if you like.

For a couple of years, Sony pulled a ‘Vita’ and just let it languish. Not many titles, coupled with a pretty hefty internet requirement, meant it was still a niche product.

Don’t you pay the fee and play? Why can’t you use it?

PlayStation Now is only available in a few countries. Even in those countries, if you don’t have an excellent internet connection, good luck. This is a big part of the backlash over Google Stadia as well.

This doesn’t stop me seeing a bunch of ads for the last 6 years telling me to try it. Sony, you localise so much, maybe stop asking Facebook to ask me to try it for free?

Microsoft is going in pretty hard with streaming with the Xbox Series X as well. Here in Australia, while we are lucky to have Azure datacenters close by, the state of the internet infrastructure is a joke. That didn’t stop Microsoft coming up with a simple for everyone solution.

How Microsoft is paving the way for streaming while attracting new customers

Microsoft Game Pass is the first attempt foundation of consumer acceptance of XCloud, their own streaming solution. Want to try a whole bunch of games for one low price? Here’s Game Pass! Just click the title, and you can be playing it in a few seconds via XCloud.

It doesn’t work this way right now. Since 2017, Microsoft has been adding to the number of Game Pass subscribers. Hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of gamers all now used to access to ‘free’ games.

Game Pass PC Store
This is the new additions for PC. Xbox has even more choices!

How it works today is you download the games locally to play them. You need just enough internet to prove you can play it (basic account check), then off you go. Yes, you have to wait for the downloads and update them yourself, etc. People don’t worry too much, as that is how digital store purchases work already.

What has any of this has to do with rumours and PlayStation Now?

I promise I am getting there.

Nothing can help lousy internet. No matter how many settings you tweak or subscriptions to different tools you buy, if your line can’t handle it, that’s it.

Microsoft got around this brilliantly with Game Pass. Can you stream? Great play away! Internet not playing ball for some reason? Download the game and play on your console. Problem solved!

The reason Microsoft can do this is simple: Xbox has backwards compatibility. Put in an Xbox or Xbox 360 title, and you are good to go. Put a PlayStation 3 disc in the PS4, and watch the console get very confused.

But what if the PS5 has backwards compatibility?

Oh, I think I see where you’re going.

The statement from Sony is that the PS5 will be PS4 and PSVR backwards compatible. The rumour is that the PS5 will support all of the numbered consoles. Quietly I am hoping that the PSP and Vita can get in on the action as well, but that is extra fingers crossed territory.

If this feature is indeed real, Sony could pull a Microsoft and let you download the games to your PS5. No streaming required. Open PlayStation Now up to all PSN territories, and let that sweet subscription money start rolling in.

If you can stream, great. Instant game access on multiple devices is definitely the way to go. No waiting for downloads or updates, pick a title and play. I believe streaming content like this will be the norm at some point, just not today.

If you can’t stream, that would almost be better for Sony financially. Hosting the download files only is a lot cheaper than the cost of streaming infrastructure and would offset these costs. Especially as more people globally would be helping pay for it. Even in the areas PlayStation Now is available, only a percentage of players can use the service.

Metal Gear Solid 4
Metal Gear 4 I can't play again as my PS3 died. I could if I had PlayStation Now though...

Pull a Microsoft. Get everyone wanting to be a part of the service, not just the select few.

So your big ‘fix’ is to copy Game Pass. Why would they?

Why wouldn’t they? Sony couldn’t do offer this for various compatibility reasons in the past, but if that is fixed – why not? The setup is so good, I bought an Xbox. Two, technically. I don’t regret upgrading my preowned first purchase for the purple beastie 🙂

With one exception Rabbit bought for me, I have yet to buy a single Xbox game. That one game was Red Dead Redemption, and yes I know the sequel is prettier and everything but I try and judge a franchise from its roots. I haven’t had to. My games come with Game Pass.

The Purple Beastie
The Fortnite Xbox One - my Purple Beastie. Enzo loves it too, as you can see from the fur :p

Games suggested retail pricing is around $110-$120 in Australia. We usually pay less than this (just), but no one is going to slash the prices on launch titles. Say the PS5 is $100 less than the Series X, you lose that advantage in just one game purchase. And you will need that one game (at least) to justify your shiny new console. Online multiplayer? Do you have PlayStation Plus? That’s another $12 thanks. This does give you access to some free games, so that’s a bonus. But it’s a choice of 2-4 depending on the month, and you might not like any of them.

“Ah, but what about the games for Xbox? They still have to buy games as well!” I hear you say. “Both Xbox and PlayStation need all that extra stuff!” Well, yes and no. Yes, Xbox uses pricing tiers for different services. No, because you are getting more for you money from Xbox these days.

For AUD$16, you can buy the console AND Game Pass Ultimate access for one month. Play what you want. Play online straight away. Even get a couple of free games with Gold. Wanted to play that exclusive launch title? If it’s Microsoft Studios (which it probably will be on launch), it’s already included with Game Pass. Console cost + $16 to play over 100 games including new releases? Done.

PS4 Starter Pack
Starter packs are a great way to save a little money, but you still spend more

Well, I wouldn’t say I have been totally bought across. I am still Team PlayStation, I just appreciate what Microsoft is building. If it’s not on Game Pass, I will probably look at PS4 and Switch versions first. But they have my attention, and I will look. That’s more than they had from me 12 months ago.

The only way for Sony to combat this is to offer parity with Microsoft. On the surface, they do with PlayStation Now. But it’s not the same. With the service only available in certain regions coupled with no fallback option if things aren’t great internet wise, it’s chalk and cheese.

Xbox One S Starter Pack
Xbox has starters and the digital only console. Every saving has some form of extra price.

Are you trying to say buy Xbox?

Gaming is expensive. You pay a lot upfront, but hopefully over the next 7-8 years that cost overall evens out. Doesn’t help that initial splash out though.

I will always say game on what works for you. Microsoft has given players ways to maximise their gaming cheaply (and legally) compared to the limited market PlayStation Now has. It has even used this low cost of entry early to bring across PlayStation fans like me.

I am really hoping that if the backwards compatibility rumours are indeed true, Sony launches PS5 with the new PlayStation Now that allows game downloads in ALL regions. If this is the case, and Sony undercuts the Xbox pricing, it would actually be an attractive saving for the consumer. Not just the superficial save that costs you more in the long run.

I really want streaming to work. Not just for the convenience as a gamer, but environmentally as well. Data Centers use huge amounts of power, which still isn’t great, but companies are doing everything they can for effeciency and plenty of centers are now being built to be powered by renewable energy only. Steps are being made, and each step forward is progress.

And like every complicated chain, that’s one part of the puzzle. Because people will be using lower powered systems to run games, they will use less energy as well. Without buying so many discs and cases, the amount of plastic created and thrown out is affected. Think Video Tapes and Music CD’s. Thanks to services like Netflix and Spotify, less of these are being made while the product itself reaches a lot more people.

Streaming makes sense in the long run, it’s just I don’t think we are there yet. This new generation of consoles will hopefully be the last generation that uses the digital download/play locally model, and I hope Sony takes advantage of this.

If they don’t? They may as well hand the next generation victory to Microsoft, similar to how Microsoft handed it over with the launch of the Xbox One.

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

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