The Wednesday Inbox is concerned that there may be no next gen exclusives released this year, as a reader recommends Fights In Tight Spaces.
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If that Horizon Forbidden West leak is because of the same security flaw as The Last Of Us Part 2 that’s hilariously inept. I hope the story doesn’t get leaked though as that was one of the best bits of the original and I know some people really have a thing against spoilers.
I’m middling on them but what interests me is whether the game is going to step up and try and be more than the original was in terms of gameplay. Horizon Zero Dawn was good, but it was also pretty shallow. It wasn’t hard to imagine how much better it’d be with more involved combat and more meaningful role-playing elements.
It was successful though, so will the sequel be a case of just being the same game with better graphics or will it be a proper evolution? Guerrilla has said there’s lots of things they’d like to improve but they haven’t really been specific and given their track record they’re not a company I’d trust implicitly like Naughty Dog or Insomniac.
I doubt it’ll ever be a bad game but I’m very curious to know whether it’ll be more of the same but prettier or a proper step forward.
I hadn’t realised until you mentioned it that there aren’t any PlayStation 5 exclusives scheduled for this year. I real there’s the pandemic and all but the further we get away from launch the less exclusives are being released, not more, and that’s weird.
I imagine there’s a good chance Sony could make some announcements later in the year, of games out before Christmas, but three exclusives is a lot even if they’re cross-gen and I can’t imagine there’d be more than one or two on top of that.
I’d say that Sony was in trouble except that Microsoft don’t seem to be in any better situation, with no major new games of any kind confirmed for this year. I’m sure there will be some but at the moment there’s nothing you could bet on.
I know there have been warnings for a while that the industry is going to be backed up for years because of the coronavirus but it’s only now starting to become clear exactly what that means.
I wonder if From are going to try and make the new Armored Core more accessible to a wider audience? I’ve tried to get into them before, especially after Dark Souls blew up, but always found them very slow, unexciting, and drab. They’re obviously supposed to be that way (although From probably don’t describe them in quite that way) but the amount of people that appeals to must be very small.
I think the question is whether the new game is just a reward to Miyazaki, a labour of love he can indulge himself in between bigger projects, or a concerted attempt to make the series, and mech sims in general, more popular and accessible. I really hope it’s the latter option but I have a sinking feeling it’s not.
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Less is more
The recent debate surrounding the supposed length of the upcoming Dying Light 2 has got me slightly irritated, which as a fully grown man is more than a little embarrassing.
This obsession with game length I think is fuelled by developers and gamers alike. I get that people want value for money, especially when paying up to £70 for certain games, but at the same time perhaps if people could accept shorter game lengths production costs would be lower and games cheaper. Spider-Man: Miles Morales, if I remember, was £20 cheaper than other PlayStation 5 games for this very reason and with the same high quality production values of other AAA games.
And developers don’t help things either by bragging about game length which seems to happen quite regularly. I’d rather they brag about an immersive game world, innovative gameplay or perhaps an engaging story or half a dozen things that are more important in what makes a game worth playing. If Martin Scorsese or Stephen King starting banging on how long their new film or book was people would struggle to see how that was any relevance to the overall quality of the finished article.
If anything, the massive length of Dying Light 2 has made me reconsider whether I actually have any interest in this game anymore, as games that take over 15 hour or so for the main story I would say would have to be a ‘must play’ rather than a game I had a passing interest in. I feel all concerned with games, from journalists to developers to players, need to stop equating game length with quality, when in my opinion there are many other important factors to consider.
GC: Miles Morales also told a tighter, more coherent story precisely because of its relatively short length. We wish it was used as a template for other games, but sadly it doesn’t look like it will be.
Happy new year, GC! Please help. Fights In Tight Spaces is just taking all my time. it’s quite engaging when you get into it. I like the fighting game twist its Into the Breach gameplay’s been given. Have you spent time with it lately, GC? You told me you’d review it before Christmas, but I guess all the edibles made you forget. You’re pardoned.
For all all other fellow gamers, I recommend this game. But like I mentioned, beware getting drawn too deep…
GC: We did try it but weren’t that keen. We much prefer the, relatively similar, John Wick Hex.
The little games
Nice review of the new Dead Cells expansion. It really is a terrific roguelike actioner and one I feel has only really been surpassed by Hades in that space, thanks to the latter’s storytelling and presentation. I was never overly keen on Dead Cells’s Metroidvania aspects, exploration is definitely the weakest part of the experience and you’d be much better off with an Ori or Hollow Knight to scratch that itch, but it doesn’t get in the way.
It reminded me that most of the games I enjoyed last year were the little releases I pretty much hadn’t heard of till the word of mouth kicked in. Umurangi Generation, Genesis Noir, Death’s Door, Gnosia, Overboard, Narita Boy, There Is No Game, Chicory, Unpacking, Unsighted, Loop Hero, Cyber Shadow, Eastward… and that’s just the Switch ones and I’ve missed a load more.
I’m hoping Wildermyth and Inscryption come to the format in 2022, after their rave reviews on PC. Even as purely a Switch owner in a pandemic, during the allegedly quiet year of 2021, there are just too many good games to have time to play properly.
It does make me wonder, though, how sustainable the indie gaming scene is? I’ve said in a letter before that when it comes to indies a lot of the critical acclaim and sales seem to be dependent on just getting noticed before release. How many copies do these games need to sell so the small development teams can pay the rent? I’d also worry they’re ripe to get a raw deal from companies like Microsoft and Sony looking for games to fill out their subscription services…
What happens when Microsoft decide they want Game Pass to pivot from user recruitment and Xbox brand exposure at all costs to trying to turn profits? User backlash at price rises will probably lead to indie developers getting fobbed off with bad deals and more ‘exposure’ I’d imagine.
GC: Microsoft and Sony have always been fair-weather friends to indie developers, but a successful game can still be a major hit on much smaller overheads than a AAA game. Dead Cells, for example, has sold over 6 million copies.
This is quite an interesting Kickstarter, as it is for a Game Boy Advance game that has got revived after getting cancelled originally. It is based on the Dune books but they have had to rename it as to revive it they could not get the licence, presumably that would have been too expensive. It’s only got 4 days left, it is called Elland: The Crystal Wars.
I would have probably backed it by now but I have had a lot of bills just recently unfortunately.
Given the furore YouTube comments make about the Saint Row reboot (Saints Row-boot, if you will. You can have that. Also, try to never read comments on YouTube) can you ever tell if a game will be a disaster in the early, preview stages? From what we the public have seen, I can’t see what the big problem is other than this should probably look more impressive after so much time since Volition’s last game – but a turkey? I don’t know. It could be, how will we know until we have the pudding, yes?
On a personal note, while I never was that interested in Fallout 76, it never looked as bad as it turned out to be, right? It was looking like a 6, maybe 7 out of 10 game at best. Not that great but then… not the garbage fire that we got, either.
Those of us born in the early 80s may remember a little 16-bit game called Rise Of The Robots. It looked incredible. They only showed pre-rendered cut scenes. Not gameplay. And let’s just say that Street Fighter 2 didn’t lose any sleep over it when it finally came out.
But, GC! You are hacks! Journos! Media types! You should know more about games over the ages than the average Joe, Jack or Jane! Can you think of a game that always looked like a stinker and was just that when it hit store shelves?
GC: Fallout 76 looked janky from the moment they showed it, although we suppose you could say it was a surprise that it was quite that bad. The first game that came to mind though, from your question, is Need For Speed Payback. It was embarrassing even talking to the developer about it.
$12.7 billion for the people that made FarmVille is just ridiculous. It’s a low effort Harvest Moon clone and look at the rest of their other games they all seem like clones too, with not an original idea anywhere. I refuse to believe that Take-Two, or any company, couldn’t have done all of that on their own for a fraction of the price.
Hope that Street Fighter 6 gets announced soon and that they’ve learnt from the mistakes of the Street Fighter 5 launch. I feel like fighters have been a quiet for a while now, with nothing new from NetherRealm either, so I could do with some new hype.
This week’s Hot Topic
For the first Hot Topic of the year there’s only one obvious question to ask: what upcoming new game are you most looking forward to?
The official release schedules for the year are already looking busy, particularly in the first half, but try and make sure that whatever games you talk about are either currently promised for 2022 or have a good chance of being released in the next 12 months.
Try to explain why you’re looking forward to the games so much and why you feel confident in their quality. Do you think 2022 will be a good year for video games and what are you looking forward to that isn’t just a new game release?
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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 and content.
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.
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