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Games Inbox: Are Sony PlayStation exclusives too similar?


Ghost Of Tsushima – is it stretching the formula too thin? (pic: Sony)

The Monday Inbox wonders how two comedy golf games got released in the same week, as one reader decides DLC is rarely worth it.

To join in with the discussions yourself email gamecentral@ukmetro.co.uk

Another for the list
I watched the gameplay reveal (take note Microsoft, they ‘revealed’ ‘gameplay’) of Ghosts Of Tsushima with a mix of astonishment at the graphical splendour on offer in the game and disappointment at what looked like generic gameplay.

I don’t want to take anything away from the artistic effort Sucker Punch put into the game but the clever ‘follow the wind’, look out for distant fires, and ‘animals to guide the way’ seemed like novel executions of follow the golden breadcrumbs started in Fable. The map was vast and from what I could tell beautiful but dotted across it were the familiar icons denoting main quest, side quest and hidden objective/item that have appeared in so many Sony published games this generation.

The combat looked exciting, it’s unclear how the samurai section works with its lavish animation and swift one strike kills, but the stealth sections looked exactly like the multiple open world stealth activities I’ve enjoyed/endured on my PlayStation this generation. I can’t imagine how hard it is to code decent stealth gameplay in an open world title, but I can see I’ll be spending a lot of time hiding in long grass again.

There were beautifully shot cut scenes, fantastic voice actors (especially the included Japanese dub) and promise of an emotional engaging story and a lengthy quest… but…

I’m struggling to get excited about it.

The problem is not the quality of the game, I’m quietly confident it will review well, but the similarity to Sony’s other first party output. I honestly feel the familiarity of their games is starting to dampen my enthusiasm for them.

I don’t want to be unfair to Sony, they’ve released a wide range of games this generation but the games with the big marketing budgets are all starting to feel a little samey.

Third person adventure, possibly open world with light role-playing mechanics, high standard story, voice actors and cut scenes, excellent graphics and engaging but somewhat shallow gameplay… Go on, guess which title I’m talking about.

With sequels to all Sony’s first party hits surely set for PlayStation 5 I hope that we can see some experimentation from Sony’s studios. They’ve shown for five years they are best in class at single-player third person action adventure titles, I’d love it if some of these talented teams could bring their expertise to other genres.
DarKerR (gamertag)/DarKerR-UK (PSN ID)

Pay to win
About this week’s Reader’s Feature, I sort of disagree with that and the reason is one word: investors do you really think Phil Spencer in seven years’ time, after Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 comes out, will say to the board, look we have made a loss of $100 billion but we sold four times more than Sony? No, he would be gone faster than he got in. It’s about balance, the right price and right games. That’s what will sell it.

Don’t get me wrong, Xbox Series X sounds a beast, but as we know the more you put in the more the price goes up and to me Xbox hasn’t thought about price. Their main goal was power, just to trump Sony and have something for the advert, the world’s most powerful console. Which is good on the eyes but painful on your wallet.

Yes, they could sell it at a loss at first and wait for Xbox Live to top it up but how long could that take? We will just have to wait and see when Sony shares theirs and they come out.
David
PS: Please note the $100 billion was a number that popped in my head, might not be the exact price.

GC: You don’t say. Microsoft spent $1.15 billion paying for repairs resulting from the Red Ring of Death, there’s every reason to assume they’d pay that or more to secure domination of this generation. Selling at a loss is a standard tactic in gaming and business in general.

No additions
I am increasingly inclined to believe that DLC is an unworthy endeavour. I just finished playing Bioshock Infinite and its DLC Burial At Sea for the first time. The main game was very enjoyable, particularly the beautiful art design which managed to make me swoon on more than one occasion. The story was obviously the other big draw, with compelling characters, an interesting set-up, and an unexpectedly intriguing ending. I was really happy with my experience. Then I played Burial at Sea.

The gameplay was actually not bad but the story was ridiculous. It completely undermined the characters, the ending and the internal logic of the main game in a wrong-headed attempt to connect the proceedings to the original Bioshock. The DLC amazingly managed to sabotage its parent game’s legacy and make me think less of the whole package. It’d been better if it never existed.

It’s not only in story that DLC can do damage. A more recent different example is Frostpunk. I absolutely loved that game, with its stark aesthetic and brilliantly intricate systems, it’s probably still my favourite game this year. It offered a compelling challenge that had you feel constantly on the brink of disaster without being punishing. Then I drifted into playing the integrated DLC without even realising. It became brutal to the point of extreme frustration. I began to hate the game, as it abused me over and over again. Again the DLC tainted my overall experience.

Obviously there are examples of good DLC, such as The Old Hunters for Bloodborne, but even then wouldn’t it be better to put that effort towards a brand new game? Either a proper sequel or something completely different. Maybe Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2 would already be out if Nintendo had skipped the mixed quality DLC for the original. I just can’t help but feel that DLC does more damage than good and gaming would be better off without it.
Ryan O’D
PS: I should say the one exception being multiplayer games like Mario Kart and Splatoon. I’m still waiting for Mario Kart 8 DLC Pack 3, although even then I’d trade it for a new F-Zero.

E-mail your comments to: gamecentral@ukmetro.co.uk

Business as usual
Seems publishers are scheduling their games like a blindfolded darts player again. Recently we had Moving Out and Get Packed! released together, because Overcooked style furniture removal games are apparently like buses.

Now I see What The Golf? and Golf With Your Friends are both coming out on the Switch within days of each other. They may not be quite as identical looking as the removal games, but it’s still pretty poor timing. It’s like The Bug’s Life vs. Antz.

Personally, I’ll be opting for What The Golf? as I saw a stream of it and it looked like a lot of fun. Golf With Your Friends can wait for reviews/the chance to be in the same room as other people to play some virtual mini-golf.

I’d like to recommend a little game on the Switch called Conduct Together. You have small dioramas of train routes with the face buttons stopping and starting your trains and the D-pad switching tracks. There are a lot of levels to play and with quick restarting it has that ‘one more go’ appeal. It’s easy to dip in and out of and reminds me of Mini Metro as a great game to play in handheld while watching TV.
Euclidian Boxes

Morning routine
Hey GC, hope you’re all well, thanks for keeping me entertained and allowing me to have part of a routine each day, read you while I have my breakfast. It’s an incredibly tough time and my anxiety can get quite bad on some days, but reading you is a really great distraction and takes my mind off things for a while. I’m sure a lot of readers feel the same. So thanks a lot and let’s hope things will be easing and getting better soon.

Just wanted to ask will you be reviewing What The Golf? on the Switch, which I think is being released this week? I’ve heard good things about it.
SteJFin (NN ID)

GC: Thanks for that, we hope you, and all our readers, are coping okay in these peculiar days. Our What The Golf review went up this morning.

Free trial
I just want to say a huge thank you to reader RedRobN for his astounding generosity in donating a copy of Streets Of Rage 4. I was on the fence after having read some user reviews from long-time fans comparing the game unfavourably, in certain regards at least, to the older titles.

So I was resigned to waiting until the game saw a hefty discount to alleviate the risk of buying a dud and that in all likelihood I’d have to wait several months for any reasonable discount to materialise. Now I don’t have to!

As of writing I haven’t had the time to play more than the first level so am not in any position to give a definitive verdict. The only gripe so far is that the pipe doesn’t make nearly enough of a ‘VWOOOSH, THWACK!’ noise but the fact that I had a big grin plastered over my face during my brief playtime thus far is a good sign!
Meestah Bull

GC: If you unlock the retro characters, they also have the retro sound effects.

Scrabble Go away
I would like to add my strong agreement with those who absolutely hate Scrabble Go. While it seems to be designed to appeal to young people, even my 25-year-old granddaughter dislikes it intensely.

Please let me know what else I can do to ensure that the classic Scrabble so many of us love can continue.
Jane Rose

Catch up on every previous Games Inbox here

Nothing new under the sun
I decided against too much detail in my previous letter to prevent it being overly long, but if I must clarify….

Destructive physics could give us additional gameplay elements, but not necessarily what I consider new; we’ve seen attempts of those before. Arguably the concept goes back as far as Space Invaders. What notable implementations are there? Red Faction comes to mind and Crackdown 3 being the most recent high profile attempt.

We have yet to see this concept used to its full potential. I believe we’ll see it either when the computations can be handled locally; or we go the streaming route. Both are predicated on the computational power of the hardware but streaming also requires a good internet infrastructure. I think Microsoft initially planned to have the destructive physics handled in the cloud for Crackdown 3. The technology is there; just not commercially viable. I anticipate destructive physics will be used more as a graphical effect, but not for gameplay purposes which we haven’t seen before.

Perhaps there’s ambiguity in what I consider ‘gameplay’. A cut scene in real-time showing a building collapse after denotating explosives I would consider a graphical effect. Whereas causing a building to collapse because I chose to detonate explosives in a sandbox game, I would consider to be gameplay. The former changes what we see; the latter can change what we do.

Consider ray-tracing too. Ray-tracing certainly could add to games, and not just for better looking visuals. Imagine taking out a mirror to try and see around a corner in a stealth mission/game? As far as I’m aware, reflections aren’t rendered this way in games, but I could be wrong. But if they are, how many are used for gameplay purposes? I’m not aware of any but do correct me if I’m wrong. Imagine seeing the enemy sneaking up behind you in a pane of glass or some other reflective surface? Imagine the potential in horror games! But generally, this will require some very creative individuals using the available technology.

Let’s see what gameplay is enabled by the use of Unreal Engine 5 and return to this in a few years. But to address your question directly [about imagining how super realistic destruction effects could help create new gameplay] No, I don’t. Because I see that as an improvement and refinement of what we already have and seen, but not new or… game changing. I’ll get me coat.
Obakasama

GC: If you haven’t seen something before then it’s new; we’re not sure why you’re being so reductive about this.

Inbox also-rans
Whether Unreal Engine 5 is real or not is irrelevant, games ain’t gonna be looking like that anytime soon.
R W McBroom

All this talk about the PlayStation 5’s amazing graphics makes me wonder. Will we finally see lifelike hair?
coinslot-
Bargain alert, Amnesia: Collection is currently only £3.29 on PlayStation 4.
Dev.

I have just seen this on the Argos website. Have they inadvertently announced Zelda: Breath Of The Wild 2 is coming out this year? If so and if it is released in time for Christmas it would be a major game for Nintendo’s Christmas period.
Superiordom

GC: We doubt Argos are a particularly close confidant of Nintendo, but who knows. Literally, as we doubt even Nintendo is sure which year it’s coming out at the moment.

Has Argos let slip a secret? (pic: Superiordom)

This week’s Hot Topic
The question for this weekend’s Inbox was suggested by reader Comp, who asks what highly anticipated game has come closest to meeting or exceeding your expectations?

Hype can get out of control sometimes but what game turned out to be as good, or better, than you were expecting? How often does it happen that games live up to your expectations and how upset do you get when they don’t?

If the game was better than you expected how did it manage that? Did you purposefully avoid too much information about it or had you got the wrong idea from the marketing and reviews? Or were some of the details purposefully kept secret?

E-mail your comments to: gamecentral@ukmetro.co.uk

The small print
New Inbox updates appear every weekday morning, with special Hot Topic Inboxes at the weekend. Readers’ letters are used on merit and may be edited for length.

You can also submit your own 500 to 600-word Reader’s Feature at any time, which if used will be shown in the next available weekend slot.

You can also leave your comments below and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter.

MORE: Weekend Hot Topic, part 1: Best video game graphics

MORE: Weekend Hot Topic, part 2: Best video game graphics

MORE: Games Inbox: Unreal Engine 5 PS5 fakery, Paper Mario optimism, and 120fps televisions

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