Can you smell that? It’s the aroma of game lovers’ tears everywhere as they realize their bank accounts likely can’t sustain buying every title coming out in the annual deluge of fall video game releases. That’s to say nothing of the amount of time you’d need to play absolutely everything that’s come out since September. Or even on November 18th alone! But what is each console offering exclusively this holiday? That’s a bit more manageable, and we compare them below.
With a few exceptions, nearly everything made by a third-party developer (i.e., one not working solely with Microsoft, Nintendo or Sony) is available on PC, so we’re going to leave those out of the conversation. Platform-exclusive goodies don’t count here either — adios, Far Cry 4!
Sony made its bed at E3 this year and is now getting comfy under that (likely luxurious) comforter. During its near-two-hour-long media briefing, it mentioned first-party retail games exactly three times. And in that trio, only one title was an original game for the PS4 that was coming out this year. That was none other than the adorable 2D platformer, LittleBigPlanet 3. The other two? The Last of Us: Remastered and Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End. While LBP3 will likely be every bit as whimsical and charming as previous efforts, it isn’t exactly the first thing that comes to mind as a tentpole fall release that’ll move loads of consoles — especially not when it releases the same day as Far Cry 4 and the Grand Theft Auto 5 remaster: November 18th. Not that the PS4 needs much help with that anyway; last we knew, over 10 million of them have been sold so far.
Considering what we’ve been able to experience of it, it’s pretty apparent why the already-released racer Driveclub wasn’t given any time on the stage at E3 this past June. The game is pretty in spots, but an absolute bore to play, which is all the more disheartening given that the developer’s previous work was the over-the-top (and excellent) MotorStorm franchise. That’s to say nothing of how the game’s been hamstrung by connectivity woes that render its key feature, a socially driven online experience, utterly unusable.
PlayStation’s fall commercial featured third-party games exclusively.
No one really expects a system’s launch to have amazing games, but here we are almost a year later and the PlayStation 4 still doesn’t have a killer app. Even Sony itself seems to acknowledge this with TV spots that feature third-party games exclusively. Hell, the PlayStation Twitter account’s header image is for the trio of those titles in the commercial — not one of its internally developed games. At this point in its predecessor’s lifecycle there was the first Uncharted as well as Ratchet and Clank Future: Tools of Destruction to look forward to; neither Driveclub nor LBP 3 look to stand up to that legacy. Looking ahead, Sony’s got The Order: 1886 (originally scheduled for a fall 2014 release) coming early next year, in addition to the hugely anticipated Bloodborne, the next game from the Dark Souls team. For now, though, the PS4 is a hard sell when it comes to games that you can’t get anywhere else.
Super Smash Bros. Those three words alone could be enough to carry Nintendo through this holiday season, but the gaming giant has a pair of other games to help lighten Mario and Co.’s load too. Not only is Smash absurdly anticipated — the 3DS version beyond whet our appetite — but it’s also releasing on two platforms and has its own set of Skylanders-esque figurines (dubbed amiibo). Nintendo’s had a relatively good year so far, and if Mario Kart 8 was any indication, we can expect the Wii U version of its mascot-laden fighting game to flex some serious muscle when it comes to moving a few consoles come November 21st and beyond.
Then we have the just-released Bayonetta 2 (like, this week), a game that’s likely to please the hardcore crowd with its frenetic pacing and old-school approach to action and combat. Granted, it earns every bit of its Mature rating, but series fans know what they’re getting into with this one. You’re a witch who fights angels and demons on the back of a fighter jet, among other places. Seriously. Who can’t get behind a premise like that?
Taking a step away from the violent side of things is Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, a spin-off from last year’s incredibly good Super Mario 3D Land. In Captain Toad, you’re navigating the adorable, mushroom-adorned Toad through a variety of puzzles in themed worlds that should be familiar to anyone who played 2013’s Mario release. Wait, you didn’t? For shame! At least you can make up for that this year.
Surprisingly, Nintendo’s first-party line-up is incredibly strong this season. The Japanese company’s reputation rests on its ability to make games that no one else can or seemingly wants to. Even without a proper Mario or Legend of Zelda release this holiday (we’re excepting Hyrule Warriors as a side game rather than series entry), Nintendo proved that it has what’s needed to compete against the likes of its relatively younger opponents with practiced ease.
Perhaps more than any console maker, Microsoft has the most to prove this fall. Redmond came out on the losing end of a PR battle when it announced confusing (and somewhat consumer-hostile) policies for the Xbox One last year, not to mention it costing $100 more than its closest rival, the PS4. Phil Spencer and Co. responded in 2014 by doubling down on games, hoping to shed the image forged by a previous management regime. At the firm’s media event at E3 this year, it spent the entire time talking about games and a majority of that was devoted to platform exclusives and first-party titles. The company line that it was all about “games, games, games” wasn’t a hollow promise and this fall’s crop of Xbox One releases shows it.
Let’s start with Forza Horizon 2: It’s excellent. Unlike Driveclub, it’s a social-based racing game that worked as promised from the outset. Beyond that, though, it’s an absolute blast to play. From racing against a bullet train as The Clash’s “Train in Vain” blasts over your car’s stereo, to challenging a buddy’s ghost to a head-to-head race only to see it drive his Hemi ‘Cuda up a hillside in effort to gain the lead, there’s loads to see and do in the game. In fact, both Ben Gilbert and I have stopped playing Destiny to soak in as much of virtual Nice as possible. You should not miss Forza Horizon 2.
When it was first teased at E3 2013, no one quite knew what to make of Sunset Overdrive. It was a parkour-style open-world something from the folks at Insomniac Games (Ratchet and Clank and Resistance franchises for PlayStation), but that’s all anyone really knew. What a difference a year made, however. What we played of the punk-rock take on Crackdown and to a certain extent, Tony Hawk Pro Skater, though, at E3 this year made us believers. It’s unapologetically a video game; bright, stylized and flashy, with a highly saturated color palette that emphasizes cartoony fun over everything else. Hell, there’s a weapon that shoots ricocheting vinyl records at energy-drink-crazed mutants and an RPG that uses teddy bears as ammunition. It’s the best kind of ridiculous.
And how could anyone forget Halo: The Master Chief Collection? We broke the news that it was coming, and since then it’s been impossible to ignore. Microsoft is going all-out for this release and including every multiplayer map that’s ever been in a Halo game into the package, as well as fully remastered versions of classic Halo 2 arenas and a totally overhauled campaign for the sequel. What else? The other three numbered Halo releases running at 1080p and 60 FPS.
Perhaps even more than Nintendo, Microsoft was in panic mode this past year. Given the improvements that’ve been made to the Xbox One’s system software and the price drop that brings parity between it and the PS4, the Xbox One is the best environment to play games that you can’t get anywhere else this fall. If all goes well, maybe Redmond will take to touting sales numbers of its own soon enough.
Welcome, ladygeeks and gentlenerds, to the new era of gaming. The one where you get to watch, and comment, as other people livestream gameplay from new-gen consoles. Because games! They’re fun!
Are you ready for a few scares? We hope so because we’re going to be streaming The Evil Within today. If you aren’t familiar with Shinji Mikami’s name, you’ve almost assuredly played his games — Mikami is the mastermind behind the Resident Evil franchise, and, specifically, he was the director on perhaps its best moment, Resident Evil 4. Since then he’s been doing a little of this and some of that, but nothing quite horror related. That changes with The Evil Within, the first effort from his Tango Gameworks studio. How’d it turn out? Check back at starting at 7 p.m. Eastern / 4 p.m. Pacific as we go in blind on PlayStation 4. Since you folks liked our Alien: Isolation stream as much as you did, instead of getting a head start we’re going to be playing from the very beginning and have no idea what to expect. Surely there’ll be a few shrieks involved. Have you even looked at the screenshot above?
[For the record, I'm playing The Evil Within on a PlayStation 4, using a retail copy (download) provided by Bethesda. I'm streaming the game over wired internet using the PlayStation 4 Twitch app. All that to say, "This game will likely look prettier and run more smoothly on your home equipment. Streaming conditions vary!"]
We’re creeping up to the PlayStation 4’s one year anniversary and the system is finally getting its 2.0 firmware update. Even better, there are a bunch of surprises; let’s dive in. First up we have the expected: SharePlay which lets you virtually pass the controller for help, YouTube exports and themes. A post PlayStation Blog notes that in addition to those, a USB music player, the ability to change colors of the PS4 dashboard (if custom themes aren’t your thing), as well as improvements to streaming are en route. There’s content organization, voice commands and, last but not least, a new backup feature that lets you archive all your settings, media and data to a USB device coming too. Like the Xbox One patch that hit this week, this adds a whole slew of features that ideally would have been available when the system launched last year. Join us after the jump for a breakdown, yeah?
- PlayStation (@PlayStation) October 16, 2014
Sony came under some fire from fans when it was announced that the only way to listen to music on the PS4 was with a Music Unlimited subscription. That changes with this patch, though, and soon you’ll be able to plug in a USB device full of MP3, MP4, MP4A and 3GP files and listen to your heart’s content. The PS Blog says that music can’t be copied to the system’s hard drive, nor can it be used in conjunction with Music Unlimited. When we’ll see CD support is anyone’s guess, however.
We’re betting that custom playlists won’t be available in-game either. Not happy with the theme pictured below? Well, you can opt for a handful of solid colors for the system UI like those at the bottom of this post.
The patch also addresses a major gripe many have had with the system since launch: decluttering the system dashboard. Now the dashboard will only show the 15 most-used games and apps, with the rest going into the Library, which also is getting some new sorting options. What’s more, lets say you’ve been stocking up on the pretty great, free releases each month that are a part of your PS Plus subscription but you’re running out of storage on your console. Well, from the PlayStation Store you’ll be able to add them to your Library without downloading — perfect for grabbing stuff before it’s no longer free and saving for later, or once you install a bigger hard drive.
Speaking of which, the 2.0 patch also adds the ability to back your system data, media and settings to a USB device. This should make transferring all the stuff you’ve accumulated over the past year to a roomier HDD a while lot faster and much more convenient if you’re living under a data cap. There’s a ton more than that, though! For the rest of the patch notes be sure to hit the PS Blog — sadly, however, it’s missing a release date.
Source: PlayStation Blog
Have you or someone you know actually used the PlayStation 4’s SHAREFactory app to make fancy-looking highlight reels of gaming exploits? We ask because despite is being out for awhile now, unlike photo-mode images, we still haven’t run across any samples aside from those produced by Sony. No matter, because the catch-up king is adding a handful of new features to the video-editing app anyway. In addition to new themes and saturation presets and improved audio quality, among other things, the ability to auto-trim longer clips has been added, too. From the sounds of it, this should be a pretty worthwhile patch for those who prefer to do their video-crafting and tweaking from their console as opposed to using external software. What we’re left wondering, however, is when the 2.0 firmware update (the one with Share Play and YouTube exports) for the console itself will finally hit. Maybe we could get application folders and custom themes with it too?
Source: PlayStation Support
Sony’s holding a two-day PlayStation event in the middle of the desert, and it wants you to attend. Okay, technically Las Vegas isn’t the middle of the desert, but it’s certainly out there. What will said event entail? PlayStation social media man Sid Shuman says you’ll, “Sit in on in-depth panels, meet the industry’s best developers, score hands-on gameplay with tons of upcoming PlayStation games, collect free swag, and get a chance to purchase rare collectibles directly from their favorite game studios.” It’s kind of like PAX, basically, but all PlayStation. One more similarity to PAX? It’ll cost ya. $50 for a one-day pass, $90 for both days. If those previous activities left you still sitting on the fence about attendance, Shuman also promises, “an exclusive first look at what’s coming next in 2015, which I am told you will not want to miss.” Project Morpheus details? Maybe a PlayStation helicopter? Who knows!
Hey, if nothing else, it’s an excuse to fly to Las Vegas in December, right?
[Image credit: Sony PlayStation]
Source: Sony PlayStation
Activision is taking a page out of its own book and throwing Call of Duty fans that haven’t yet upgraded to new consoles a bone. That’s right, if you pick up a digital copy of this year’s Advanced Warfare for either the PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360, you’ll get a free upgrade to a new-gen copy within the same console family. That means PlayStation 3 begets a PlayStation 4 download and Xbox 360 in turn unlocks an Xbox One version. What’s more, each console will retain its respective license and you’ll still be able to play online with your buddies on new and old boxes (with frickin’ lasers!) after you do the deed. The offer expires at the end of next March, and like with Destiny before it, premium content like season passes will carry over too. Sounds like a pretty great deal unless, of course, you were planning to pick up one of those special edition Xbox Ones.
– Call of Duty (@CallofDuty) October 7, 2014
Source: Call of Duty (1)
From Halo to Dead Space and countless titles in between, the influence of the Alien franchise can be felt just about just about everywhere in video games. But hardly any of the releases starring the titular onyx xenomorphs actually capture aspects of what made Ridley Scott’s beloved 1979 sci-fi flick so special — a feeling that somewhere in space this could all actually happen. To do that, the team behind Alien: Isolation (out today for PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One) had an altogether different plan of attack: a retro lo-fi aesthetic that limited them to not having any technology in the game couldn’t have existed on-set in 1979. Achieving that took some creativity on the part of developer Creative Assembly, though. “Lo-fi didn’t necessarily mean crappy,” creative lead Alistair Hope tells us. “It’s just that it’s more of a stamp in time and an approach. We’re doing sci-fi set in the future, but there’s no sense that the crew on the Nostromo should be looking for a massive sci-fi gun… It’s a disillusioned view of the future.”
That approach means everything from futzing with 20th Century Fox’s archives of sound effects from the original film, getting Sigourney Weaver back in the sound booth to rerecord Ellen Ripley’s audio log that closes the movie and beating up analog video equipment to get the look and feel of the game’s UI just right.
A 1970s-model Sony standard definition CRT television
Even with the wealth of sounds that 20th Century Fox provided access to — including original foley recordings with sound designers shouting out take numbers — the team still needed to create new material. “It’s a movie that’s 117 minutes long and we needed to generate hours and hours of new content,” Hope says. That lead to another creative challenge: how do you match the source material’s motifs and feel without betraying the feel of the 35-year-old film? One way is using an ARP Pro/DGX analog synth from the 1970s to help create new sound effects. Another is to record the imperceptible audio generated by electromagnetic waves from old TV screens and other electronics and to layer them into the game’s soundscapes.
A bit more low fidelity tech: VHS tapes
Creative Assembly took parts of the game like the inventory selection menu and the scan-line-laden loading screens, transferred them to VHS tapes and played them back on SD tube TVs with “goldfish bowl” screens. Then, they recorded them and imported the footage back into their development workflow. “While we were filming them, we were crushing the cables and putting magnets around the TV to make it glitch and cause interference,” Hope says. Those mangled assets are what gives the game its visual texture and what Hope refers to as a physical quality to the imagery. In the end, the effect resembles something along the lines of the schlocky found-footage horror flick V/H/S. “It wasn’t quite what we were getting with the digital approach. When it’s digital, it can quite often feel very cold and there was kind of a warmth to the frame in the original movie.”
That warmth wasn’t without a few casualties, though. “We managed to kill quite a bit of equipment doing that,” Hope says, laughing. “I think we broke two VCRs and at least two TVs – [it was] for a good cause.”
If you need a video refresher of just exactly what the PlayStation TV is capable of ahead of its US and Canadian release, Sony has something to take care of that. The video we’ve embedded below reinforces that Sony’s micro console is a device for families with kids and touts its ability to do more than just Remote Play PlayStation 4 games or stream some of Sony’s back catalog via PS Now — it’s a low-cost media-streaming gizmo as well. Perhaps best of all, it gets the point across in under 90 seconds. What the clip doesn’t tell you, however, is that while the PlayStation TV can play PS Vita games natively, some of the handheld’s best releases (think Tearaway and Wipeout 2048) aren’t yet compatible because of that system’s use of touch controls. Will that caveat make you reconsider plopping down $100 come October 14th? Let us know in the comments.
Welcome, ladygeeks and gentlenerds, to the new era of gaming. The one where you get to watch, and comment, as other people livestream gameplay from next-gen consoles. Because games! They’re fun!
Emerging like a Nazgûl in the night this fall is Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor. You could easily dismiss the game as a licensed cash-in on the likes of the Assassin’s Creed or Batman: Arkham franchises, but the truth of the matter is that Shadow of Mordor is better than the most recent entries in either of those series. Sure, there’s clambering up walls in very assassin-like fashion and rhythmic combat that’d make The World’s Greatest Detective blush, but the team at Monolith (perhaps best known for the F.E.A.R. and Condemned series of first-person horror games) outclasses the competition in nearly every aspect with this incredibly violent take on J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic source material. Until recently, it was fairly underhyped and that seems to have been its best asset; allowing the game’s quality, not its PR machine, to do the heavy lifting. Still on the fence about picking it up today, though? Well, we’re going to be streaming it on PlayStation 4, right here starting at 7 p.m. Eastern / 4 p.m. Pacific.
Want to check out Destiny‘s strike missions and raids but haven’t shelled out for a PlayStation Plus membership yet? Well, perhaps you can rally a few similarly-leveled buddies this weekend and give The Devil’s Lair or Vault of Glass a shot on PlayStation 4 — even if they’re in Europe. Starting this Friday at 3:01 a.m. Eastern / 12:01 a.m. Pacific, you’ll have a chance at taking out Sepiks Prime with a little help from your friends in developer Bungie’s latest shooter, gratis. Sony’s PlayStation Network has grown by leaps and bounds since the PS3 days, and the outfit wants to show it off. If Destiny isn’t your game, as Joystiq writes, you can take any multiplayer title online until the free promotion ends Sunday at 11:59 p.m. Pacific. We hear that Battlefield 4 is finally working, too, but if you aren’t into the whole pew-pew thing, there’s always FIFA 15. Regardless of what you play, there’s almost never a bad reason to spend a weekend on the couch enjoying the great indoors.
Source: PlayStation Blog