While most publishers stuck with E3 to put out their biggest annual updates, Electronic Arts pushed its EA Play event back to late July to avoid the competition. With four spotlights building hype towards the final showcase, we’ve heard about all sorts of games - but what stood out?
What was your personal highlight, from this or any of the EA events this year? Let us know in the comments.
Sam | Lost in Random
Electronic Arts does a pretty stellar job of selecting which independent titles to publish under its EA Originals label. Lost in Random looks to continue that tradition, blending real-time platforming and combat with card-based upgrades and attacks.
It’s a dark, Tim Burton-esque fantasy in which everybody decides their future with a single roll of the dice. Not content to live a future dictated by random chance, protagonist Even and her companion Dicey (a literal dice) set out to dethrone the wicked monarchy.
Lost in Random is the kind of creative oddity we used to see in the mainstream just a few console generations ago. Now that the big players are more interested in converging on the same ideas to maximise profit, the game is a breath of fresh air and at the same time somewhat nostalgic.
On another nostalgic note, EA Play ended with the reveal of Dead Space - a remake of the 2008 original. Having replayed it last Halloween, I can’t help but think that a reboot or a sequel would’ve been better. It still holds up well, and, thanks to EA’s subscription service, it’s still widely available. Accounting for all that, it honestly seems a bit redundant.
Liam | Battlefield Portal
Like James, I’ve fond memories of the Battlefield franchise, so Battlefield Portal was an obvious highlight seeing as it mashes up some of the series’ best bits into one big playground. While the scope and potential of such a mode is certainly impressive, it would’ve been good to hear more about the game’s other modes, including the rumoured Escape from Tarkov-style match type.
I was already on board when it was just a straight up shooter, but Portal should add plenty of longevity and variety to what’s sure to be a superb game. Communities usually come up with some novel ideas whenever they're given the opportunity to do so by developers, and considering DICE and Ripple Effect have basically given players carte blanche (not to mention the size of the playerbase the game will attract), I’m expecting big things from this mode.
Elsewhere, I thought GRID Legends looked quite interesting. I enjoyed the 2019 GRID reboot, but it did feel like it was lacking some personality, even with its excellent nemesis system - the live action story mode this time around could potentially remedy that.
What was your EA Play highlight?
Barely a week since our last discussion of new handheld hardware, Valve surprised us with the reveal of its Steam Deck. Not to be confused with Elgato’s Stream Deck, Valve’s handheld is a powerhouse designed to give gamers AAA gaming experiences on the go.
While Valve has toyed with hardware in the past, they’re best known as the company behind the Steam PC gaming storefront and a handful of games, most notably the Half-Life series.
The Deck itself comes in three increasingly pricey setups, each boasting more storage than the last. These range from 64GB at £349 through to 512GB at a hefty £569, though they all have microSD card support to accommodate further storage expansion.
With launch set for this December, should the Steam Deck be on your Christmas list? We have our own thoughts, but let us know yours in the comments.
Considering these three titles are also available on Switch in some form, perhaps they were highlighted to showcase the difference in performance.
Steam Deck is a really impressive bit of kit. The base model doesn’t cost much more than the Nintendo Switch (OLED model), yet is far more powerful and compatible.
As an open PC system, users are free to ditch its Steam OS and install Windows - this allows access to the Epic Games Store (including its tasty suite of free games) and the Xbox app, accommodating Game Pass compatibility. Steam already has a bigger library than Nintendo Switch, but these three powers combined arguably trounce it.
Steam sales will make building a library far cheaper than paying the infamous “Switch tax” on games, though that’s assuming most people don’t already have one. Arguably, the Steam Deck will feature the biggest and best launch line-up ever. With the integrated track pads and full control remapping via Valve’s Steam Input software, it doesn’t even matter if they don’t feature controller support.
Lots of people are excited about emulation, too. There are (questionable, depending who’s asked) means to emulate console games on a PC. Everyone seems keen for the Nintendo Switch to get classic N64 and GameCube titles, but there’s a very real chance that Steam Deck will first.
Never mind the emulation possibilities, just look at those ergonomic grips, Sam!
There’s certainly a desirability about the Steam Deck, not least because of its relatively low price point, but also the ability to play top tier games on the go or away from a TV or monitor.
That being said, I don’t think I’ll be rushing out to buy one. I’ve seen the Steam Deck being compared to a mid-range gaming laptop or an Xbox One or PS4 in terms of performance, which doesn’t make it sound very future proof.
My mid-range 2017 gaming laptop could just about run AAA games when I bought it, but the scope and requirements of later titles soon outstripped its capabilities, and I can see the same thing happening with the Steam Deck.
Yes, there’s a deluge of current and older titles that it will always be able to play, but how long before newer games start becoming incompatible? The Switch, while massively underpowered, at least has a guaranteed stream of top tier first-party releases to prop it up.
If I didn’t have my eye on a Series X I’d probably still get one, because they do look like very cool pieces of kit. But would I still be playing it five years from now as I do the Switch? Hard to say.
It also has proper control sticks, which the Switch sorely lacks.
What do you think of the Steam Deck? Will you be picking one up? Let us know below.
Gamers across the world thought that the long-rumoured “Switch Pro” was finally here with the recent Nintendo Switch OLED reveal. Instead, the new console brings just a few small improvements instead of a boost to horsepower and 4K image output.
But, what specs would’ve made for a hardware revision worthy of its rumoured “Pro” moniker? What games would make the most of some added power? We’ve answered those very questions, so be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments.
The Nintendo Switch OLED model is rather underwhelming. It gets rid of those ugly screen bezels, but other than that, there isn’t much to write home about. Existing owners don’t need to rush out and upgrade, though it could’ve been a different story with a few tweaks.
Firstly, the remodel would benefit greatly from an improved graphics chip. Nintendo Switch is weaker than even the last-generation PlayStation and Xbox machines; it needs to close the gap sooner rather than later to keep receiving strong third-party support.
More ergonomic Joy-Con would’ve been nice to see, too. The current Nintendo Switch controllers aren’t all that comfortable, due to the lack of any form-fitting ergonomics. A true “Pro” model should be comfortable as standard, rather than requiring an add-on grip.
Bafflingly, the Nintendo Switch OLED also features the same old internal battery. Giving players more game time per charge would be an obvious win, plus help to offset the increased power consumption accompanying any notable hardware upgrades.
What game would benefit most? Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, which debuted at E3 last month. It’s coming to Nintendo Switch as a streaming title, but that tech isn’t quite there yet, so being able to play natively would be a huge benefit.
I’m actually a bit relieved the Switch OLED is an underwhelming upgrade, as it means I can continue to use my 2017 Switch without feeling like I’m missing out. A brighter, bezel-less screen (sort of) would be nice to have, but without any extra power lurking within I don’t really see the point, particularly as I mostly use my Switch docked these days.
Sam’s covered my main gripe with the Switch – the uncomfortable Joy-Cons – but there’s another aspect of the detachable controllers that I was disappointed not to see addressed in the revamp, the control sticks. I’m not talking about the well-documented drift issues, but rather how cheap and inaccurate they feel when playing games such as Splatoon 2, or any other shooter or platformer that requires precision aiming, for that matter.
The tiny sticks just don’t feel up to scratch most of the time, and though I understand their size and functionality is probably limited by the console’s need to be portable, I still think there’s room for a more premium stick without requiring bulkier Joy-Con housing and compromising the handheld nature of the Switch.
Hopefully it’s something Nintendo addresses in any future Switch revisions or their next hybrid console.
What 'pro' feature would you like to have seen added to the Switch OLED?
Here we are, the (pixelated) dust has settled and we have lots of new games to look forward to. You might have seen our biggest E3 2021 takeaways, but now it’s time for our personal top picks.
Do you agree? Is there something else which took your personal top spot? Let us know in the comments.
Sam | WarioWare: Get it Together
While it was great to see Game Pass get more support during the Xbox & Bethesda Games Showcase, plus Elden Ring appear during Summer Games Fest, I thought both events were ultimately underwhelming.
Square Enix wasn’t the best either, though I am excited about the upcoming Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy. I’ve been hoping for a dedicated GotG game for a while now, and, at the very least, this looks set to right the wrongs perpetrated by Marvel’s Avengers.
Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin received an embarrassing debut trailer, though the playable PS5 demo went a long way towards setting minds at ease. It’s a nice mix of Nioh and Final Fantasy VII Remake (no surprise, considering the talent behind it), with gameplay that’s already rewarding ahead of its 2022 release.
Thus, it fell to Nintendo to save E3 2021. Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope, Metroid Dread, and WarioWare: Get it Together were my personal highlights. The latter, in particular, will be right at home on Switch. Adding simultaneous cooperative play is a no-brainer, especially with the ease of access owning to the system’s detachable Joy-Con controllers.
Chris | Rainbow Six Extraction
I'd say my real highlight was the surprise trailer for The Outer Worlds 2, though, as said trailer made abundantly clear, it's still a long way off. Let's just celebrate me being right for the first time ever.
Of course, Rainbow Six Extraction will be here much sooner and Ubisoft already had my interest before showing off a fairly sizable chunk of gameplay. Rather than a highly-choreographed slice of a mission, the footage was presented as more of a beginner’s guide, also serving as a further reminder that this is a different beast to Rainbow Six Siege. A very different beast. Even if it's not too dissimilar to Back 4 Blood, or even Gears 5's Escape mode, it remains distinctly Rainbow Six.
Yes, the possibility of losing all of your progress with an Operator (if they get captured) could feel like a series of rapid kicks should one experience a streak of bad luck, though, done correctly, it could add to the tension. Operators will need to be extracted before they can be used again and all of your progress will be lost. Ubisoft completely ditching the PvP element is unexpected, but welcome.
Another small highlight was Halo Infinite. Halo peaked with Reach, as anyone who is Liam will tell you, but what little was revealed about Infinite's story is certainly intriguing.
Liam | Battlefield 2042
Unlike Chris, none of my pre-E3 predictions came through - even the Super New Nintendo Switch Pro, which I thought was a certainty. Still, this year’s event was an exciting one for me as a fan of multiplayer shooters.
Whilst I’m a bit disappointed we didn’t hear anything regarding Star Wars Battlefront 3 or Titanfall 3 (though there’s still EA Play next month, so fingers crossed) a Battlefield 2042 gameplay reveal was enough to keep me satisfied.
The promise of 128 players, huge maps that have multiple zones and destructible environments and two all-new mystery modes (one that’s believed by many to be a Battlefield take on Escape from Tarkov) sounds absolutely excellent and has me scouring the internet in search of an Xbox Series X to be ready once the October release rolls around.
Elsewhere, Elden Ring caught my eye despite me not being a huge fan of FromSoftware’s back catalogue. I am, however, a big fan of George R. R. Martin’s work, including his fantasy stuff outside of A Song of Ice and Fire. Hopefully the game itself isn’t too difficult, as I really like the look of the world/lore and it would be good to be able to explore the entirety of it without wanting to lob my controller at the TV.
What was your E3 highlight?
Now all the announcements are done and the ray-tracing-enhanced cats are out of the proverbial bag, it’s time to look back at this year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo (or E3, for you youngsters).
We’ll share our own top picks in next week’s Team Talk, but in the meantime, here’s a few themes we noticed from Microsoft, Square Enix, Ubisoft and other talented developers.
Re-releases are big business (and not just Switch ports)
From Death Stranding: Director’s Cut to the welcome return of those playful primates in Super Monkey Ball Banana Mania, there were plenty of ports and franchise revivals this year.
One unexpected return was Advance Wars, which is having its first and second games bundled together for a Switch release in December. We last heard from the series way back in 2008 on the Nintendo DS, so a return to the cult classic is long overdue.
We also saw more from Diablo 2: Resurrected, a remaster of the beloved base game and its Lord of Destruction expansion coming 23 September. Continuing the hellish theme, the acclaimed roguelike Hades is also coming to PS5 and Xbox Series X|S soon.
Squad-based survival is so hot right now
We met a lot of new co-op survival action games at E3, some of which look rather intriguing. Apparently, the urge to fend off waves of varying enemy types still holds strong.
Probably the most exciting of these was Redfall, a vampire-hunting shooter from Arkane Studios which closed the Microsoft and Bethesda showcase. The Anacrusis and Contraband also made brief appearances at the Xbox event, with the latter described as “a co-op smuggler’s paradise”.
Back 4 Blood also debuted a new trailer there, though later got its own platform courtesy of the Warner Bros. showcase. Put together by Turtle Rock, who were responsible for the original Left 4 Dead, it looks familiar with a few fresh ideas thrown into the mix.
Then there’s Rainbow Six Extraction for a more considered approach. Whether or not Ubisoft’s latest will alienate fans of the competitive tactical shooter series remains to be seen.
Game Pass is everywhere
Xbox has been banging the Game Pass drum for a while, but this year really saw that bet start to pay off. 27 of the 30 games shown at the Microsoft showcase are joining the subscription service, many of them on launch day.
Yakuza: Like A Dragon immediately joined the back catalogue and there’s even more Game Pass love to come in the future. Titles like artisan indie Sable and horror game Scorn, which draws inspiration from H.R. Giger, are just a couple of notable upcoming inclusions.
Most impressively, the likes of Xbox console exclusive Starfield (from the Skyrim and Fallout devs) and the Halo Infinite campaign are also coming day one. As for Halo Infinite’s multiplayer, that will be free to everyone as standard.
Indies get their time to shine
Wholesome Direct, Devolver Digital, Summer Game Fest and yet more events gave plenty of opportunities to indie developers this year.
Games like Soultstice, Far: Changing Tides, Immortality and many more might not have made as large a splash if PlayStation and EA had decided to show up. ID@Xbox was full to the brim with offerings as well, highlighting titles such as Tunic and Somerville.
The future looks bright for these underdogs, which now more than ever are fighting for attention amongst the big boys and girls.
What was your main takeaway from E3 this year? Let us know in the comments.
The gaming world’s seasonal hype fest is almost upon us, the Electronic Entertainment Expo, or E3.
There’s no in-person events once again, but a slew of digital get-togethers have been announced from the likes of Ubisoft, Square Enix and Microsoft, with the latter now also including the gaming juggernaut, Bethesda.
The show is more of a collection of smaller showcases than ever before, with Koch Media, among others, kicking things off with their Primetime presentation on 11 June at 8pm.
All of this means there will definitely be announcements over the next week or so, and we have a few ideas of what we can expect – first realistically and then our wildest hopes and dreams. Leave your own rampant speculation in the comments.
The cat’s already out of the bag where Elden Ring is concerned. Many people, myself included, have seen the leaked gameplay footage. It looks great, though FromSoftware and Bandai Namco claim it isn’t representative of quality. What better way to prove that than with an official first look at E3?
Based on the blurry and reportedly outdated leak, Elden Ring looks to be channelling FromSoftware’s past work heavily. Considering that the Japanese developer is responsible for several of my all-time favorites, that’s quite alright with me. Throw in lore from Game of Thrones’ George R. R. Martin and it could easily prove to be a showstopper!
Dragon Age Legendary Edition
I’m still working my way through Mass Effect Legendary Edition at the moment. It’s a good time, though more than anything it’s making me nostalgic for another BioWare classic - Dragon Age: Origins.
DA: Origins trades blows with Dark Souls as my favourite RPG, and with the former having launched first, it doesn’t seem fitting that only the latter has a remaster. Since the Mass Effect remasters are performing well, here’s hoping that Dragon Age will step up to the plate next. It’d certainly be a step in the right direction where winning gamers’ favour back is concerned, for both BioWare and EA.
Rumours of an upgraded Switch have been intensifying over the last few months, but it’s looking increasingly likely that the hype could be justified. Lots of industry insiders are pointing to a Switch Pro or Super Switch (personally, I like the moniker ‘New’ Nintendo Switch) getting a reveal either during or just before E3, and I’m leaning towards agreeing with them.
As much as I adore my 2017 Switch, I think I would be tempted to upgrade should a new and improved model become available, but it has to be a significant improvement: I’m talking a framerate boost and improved visual fidelity for all games, not just a bezel-less OLED screen and even better battery.
Titanfall 3 & Battlefront 3
We already know Battlefield 2042 has received a new reveal trailer this week, but I’d like to see EA show some love to some of their other FPS series. It would be great to hear something about Titanfall 3, even if it’s just an announcement, and the same goes for Star Wars Battlefront 3.
While this will of course be Battlefield’s year in the spotlight, I think there’s still room to show Battlefront and Titanfall fans something, even if it’s just a teaser, without stealing any thunder.
Since the game was originally due to shop with the new Xbox Series X|S, there’s little doubt we’ll see more of Master Chief’s return at Microsoft’s showcase. Surely it will be a “Holiday 2021” release window, but what might we see beyond a date in the diary?
Perhaps developers 343 Industries will give us an in-depth look at a level of the campaign, or, in a break from convention, maybe there’ll be a glimpse at the free-to-play multiplayer element, which no doubt MS hopes will be their next big money-spinner. How will it show off the Series X’s power?
While one strategy reveal has already been leaked, in the form of a Marvel-themed XCOM from Firaxis, the upcoming return of Age of Empires has got me keen to return to more new real-time strategy.
The Red Alert series may have ended on an odd note, with its camp presentation and unmissable live-action cutscenes slightly getting the better of it, the core of the game is solid – Allied and Soviet armies destroying each other with opposing armies filled with bombastic characters.
While it might not be best-placed for the console crowd (though with keyboard and mouse support, who knows?), this is a series ripe for resurrection.
What are your E3 predictions? Let us know.
Everybody’s favourite plumber has tried an awful lot of sports over the years – kart racing easily being the most popular – and although he’s heading back to the fairway for Mario Golf: Super Rush, we say why stop there?
We’ve had main games encompassing the likes of tennis, baseball and even football (well, they call it soccer). Then there’s Mario Sports Mix and the Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games series that give players access to a wide range of sports and events. But still, there are plenty more sports which Mario and co. could yet turn their hands to.
What would you go for? Maybe something obscure that hasn’t been done justice before? Perhaps something totally off-the-wall (like squash)?! Let us know in the comments.
You know it's not a proper Mario sports game when they can't be bothered to wear the appropriate attire.
Pro Wrestling | Sam
Mario sports titles are all about taking a sport and dialling it up to eleven by injecting an over-the-top, arcadey presentation. Professional wrestling in its base form fits that description already, so the Mario cast could get really crazy on this occasion.
Although not a “real” sport in many peoples’ eyes, the game could settle beef in hilarious fashion. Mario and Luigi battle Wario and Waluigi in a volatile tag team match, observed by a baying crowd of Mushroom People. Picture the titular plumber’s nipples returning to screens as he and his brother head to the ring in colourful speedos, then Wario emerges in a leotard flanked by Waluigi rocking a mankini.
Characters could pull power-ups out from under the ring, in place of weapons, emerging in new costumes to inflict extra damage on opponents for a limited time. Settings from throughout the entire franchise could appear as nostalgic arenas, each with crowds befitting the location. Bonkers finishing maneuvers, slow motion replays and all manner of overly indulgent pomp would add to the experience instead of annoying.
Nintendo would also have the perfect means to justify this more “violent” take on the Mario property - it’s just simulated violence. The roster of rasslers collaborate to put on a show without hurting one another, though, disclaimer, kiddies shouldn’t try it at home. Problem solved!
We didn't fancy googling 'Waluigi + mankini' so this will have to do.
Skateboarding | Liam
There’s a skateboarding event in Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, but it looks rather simple and I think a full-fledged Mario skateboarding game could be a lot more exciting, especially if it took some inspiration from the Mario Kart series.
For example, while a Mario skateboarding game would of course have a free roam mode with levels based on some of the Mario games’ most iconic locations (Peach’s Castle, Donut Plains, New Donk City, etc.) it could also have its very own race mode, complete with skateboard-based obstacles, such as ramps and stair sets.
Imagine weaving through traffic in the classic Mario Kart 64 track Toad’s Turnpike, but instead of simply dodging the trucks and cars in a race to the finish line, you could grind along them, chaining tricks together as you hop from one vehicle to the next to boost your score and ranking. The verticality and competitiveness of Mario Kart’s Balloon Battle mode would also lend itself well to a skateboard game.
To keep things interesting, it wouldn’t have to be an entirely 3D affair, either – you could easily have 2D levels inspired by classic Super Mario Bros. titles, complete with a grindable flagpole at the end of each level.
All the character assets already exist, they just need their own proper game.
What sport would you like to see Mario take on next?
As the Legendary Edition of the Mass Effect trilogy has been released, daring us to venture into the stars once more (keep your eyes peeled for our review soon), we decided it was time to talk about the crew of the Normandy SR1.
Throughout the three games, your protagonist Shepard is accompanied by a cast of colourful characters, and series fans will all have their favourite that they will protect through thick and thin, despite, in some cases, multiple opportunities for them to fall on the field of battle.
Do you have a favourite? Let us know in the comments. Perhaps you favour one of the supporting characters you don’t get a chance to tag along with you, like the mysterious Illusive Man, who looks oddly like Martin Sheen or that reporter Al-Jilani, who turns out to be more vindictive than an early 2000s Piers Morgan.
Feelings are good, but Wrex's best feature is his tank-like strength: send him into a room of enemies and watch the carnage unfold.
James | Mordin
The obvious choice would be Garrus, given he gets some of the series most memorable lines and (minor spoiler) has an outstanding turn as Archangel in ME2, but in fact the companion I enjoyed chit chatting with the most was eccentric scientist Mordin.
As the only character with a musical number to his name, Mordin Solus was introduced in the second game, but his work on the genophage, an artificial fertility modification programme, links him back to one of your most lasting decisions in the first game - the fate of the Krogans.
The Salarian’s approach to his work is that the ends always justify the means, he is far from callous for a scientist, and has an arc of his own and, ultimately, one of the most meaningful climaxes for any of the supporting characters.
In combat he’s not to be sniffed at either, with significant tech powers and able to hold his own fairly consistently – though no doubt his true value is in the lab.
While his relationships with the other characters can portray him as single-minded as far as his work is concerned, there’s no doubting his capabilities and the value and variety he adds to the team introduces some variety to what can otherwise otherwise be a very human-centric squad.
Mordin's omni-tool doubled as a harmonica.
Liam | Ashley
Of all the many crew members that accompanied my Shepherd in the campaign against the Reapers, it’s Ashley that stands out the most, even though she was missing for large parts of the sequels. Alongside Garrus, she was ever-present as I made my way through the first game (watch out for spoilers below).
Her absence from ME2 hit hard when I realised she wasn’t going to be part of the crew, which is why I’m ranking her above everyone’s favourite turian. As well as being a solid side kick, she also plays a major role in the battle of Virmire, a mission that lives long in the memory.
I did once leave her to die on a recent replay, but it wasn’t quite the same having Kaidan knocking about the ship instead. It might be easy to dismiss her as just another soldier type, but her backstory and motivations are actually quite interesting, particularly when it comes to her family history.
ME2 and 3 might be considered better titles in terms of gameplay, but the original’s atmosphere, missions and story made it the superior experience for me, and Ashely and the original crew were a big part of what made that game so enjoyable.
Also the companion to have around if you like poetry.
Who was your favourite companion? Let us know below.
With Returnal experiencing a few teething problems due to its lack of save functionality and more, we’ve been thinking about other games that have benefitted from a few patches to make them fighting fit after launch.
Do you have a favourite that began life as a fumble? Maybe something you were burned by early and never bothered to revisit? Let us know in the comments.
Plenty of new ways to earn loot, and then lose it all to these guys.
Liam | Star Wars Battlefront 2
I thoroughly enjoyed the 2015 Star Wars Battlefront reboot. Despite the lack of content, I thought it was a great looking/sounding game that had really solid arcade-style combat and some decent multiplayer modes.
I was super hyped for the sequel, Battlefront 2, so it was incredibly disappointing to see it being slated by press and users alike upon release in 2017 due to its dodgy loot box implementation. It was enough to turn me off completely – I didn’t buy the game and never even completed my 10-hour EA Access trial.
It wasn’t until the game hit the EA Access Vault that I eventually got the chance to give it a proper try and found that a year and a bit of work had put the game in a much better place than it had been at launch. There were exciting new game modes, plenty of cosmetic items to unlock (seemingly outside of loot boxes), plus a robust and healthy playerbase.
I almost regret not taking a chance on Battlefront 2 earlier, as the gameplay is excellent, and it’s now one of my go-to multiplayer titles. While people were quite rightly angered by the game’s shambolic launch, it’s in a much better place now and has plenty to offer, for both Star Wars and multiplayer fans.
Make sure you give the Starfighter Assault mode a try if you're heading back to BF2, it's tucked away behind the 'More' tab.
Sam | Returnal
Returnal is sitting on the naughty shelf right now. It’s misbehaved terribly, though the developers at Housemarque are already putting things right.
The game is ambitious, which is great, don’t get me wrong, though treading new ground can also cause problems. Returnal is all about its cyclical gameplay loop - playing and learning, then dying and improving. Many flat out take issue with the concept, but its the implementation that occasionally stinks.
There’s no saving during runs and runs can last hours. Currently, suspending the game by putting the PS5 into Rest Mode is the only workaround. Ignoring the environmental and financial impact of all that needless power consumption, the feature is plain unreliable. When I came back to a run suspended in the final area, I found that everything was lost due to the game automatically closing to install an update…
Needless to say, I haven’t played Returnal since. However, it is stellar when it works and Housemarque have been quick to acknowledge and address all of the shortcomings. They’re even considering the implementation of a save feature based on community feedback.
Returnal will overcome its launch woes in time, at which point it’ll be a must-play for PS5 owners. That’s also when I’ll be back to break Selene from her cycle and finish what we started.
Plenty of players will return(al) once the teething issues are sorted.
What game do you think deserves a second chance? Let us know below.
New Pokémon Snap is coming our way faster than Deoxys in its Speed form, so it won’t be long until players can once again take pictures of their favourite pocket monsters. Thanks to a tie-in printer peripheral from Fujifilm, people can even print them out!
We’ve all shelled out on a variety of add-ons over the years, but is there one which really stands the test of time? We have our picks, so let us know yours in the comments.
A pair of Zappers and a copy of Ghost Squad made for a decent night in.
Sam | PlayStation VR
I’m a bit of a sucker for faddy peripherals. I loved Guitar Hero and Rock Band before their inevitable demise. I’ve played more than my fair share of Kinect games. But when it comes to an add-on that best stands the test of time, PlayStation VR is the one.
PS VR opens the door to a whole new library of games. Some are better than others, naturally, but there are more quality experiences attached to the headset than any other peripheral.
PC virtual reality headsets might offer higher end experiences (for an added premium), but the hardware regularly refreshes and games don’t always support all headset brands. It can be far more expensive and inconvenient, as compared to PS VR and its continued universal support across all recent PlayStation consoles.
While Oculus Quest cuts the wires (and I love it for that), it’s a platform all its own in place of an add-on. It also doesn’t offer greats like Skyrim VR, Resident Evil 7 and Until Dawn: Rush of Blood. All that said, Sony’s headset is probably the greatest gaming peripheral yet.
Sony's next-gen PS VR and its fancy controllers will surely supplant its predecessor as the greatest gaming peripheral.
Liam | N64 Rumble Pak
With rumble being a standard feature on most controllers these days, it’s weird to look back and think of the N64’s Rumble Pak as a big deal, but it kind of was, at least at the time.
I remember getting this thing bundled together with an oversized copy of Lylat Wars (known as Star Fox 64 everywhere else) and marvelling at how every impact and charge shot in-game was suddenly brought to life through the N64’s unsightly gamepad.
Not only did it add an extra layer of depth to Lylat Wars’ already stellar gameplay (and other games as well, for that matter) but the Rumble Pak also gave the ‘pad a nice weighty heft thanks to its size and bulk. Slapping this thing into the attachment slot at the back of the controller really felt like you were gearing up for a futuristic adventure.
Although gamepad designs have significantly evolved over the years to more subtly incorporate rumble features, I do strangely miss the status symbol of the Rumble Pak, especially when you had to constantly battle two other siblings for possession of it.
Bulky, but a great bit of tech.
What's your favourite gaming peripheral? Let us know below.