M2H, the team behind Verdun, have finally brought their latest WW1 shooter Tannenberg to consoles. Join us as we take a quick look at the multiplayer title on Xbox One.
I enjoy Verdun, but finding online matches is tough. How does Tannenberg fare?
At the time of writing, close to the game's release, the Tannenberg player base seems relatively healthy.
There’s usually enough players around to make at least one or two full matches, though it is a niche game and that may soon change. While we haven’t had to make use of the included bots to bolster numbers just yet, there could be a time when AI opposition becomes a necessity and not a luxury.
What about the visuals?
Tannenberg isn’t the prettiest game out there, but it looks decent enough on console. Motion blur can be enabled to soften some of the rough edges and the frame rate can be unlocked, though even when running on an Xbox One X the latter caused noticeable screen tearing and occasional performance stutter.
Would you recommend Tannenberg?
Yes. The old-timey weaponry and rugged looks might not be to everyone’s taste, but give it a chance and you’ll find a fun, alternative multiplayer experience that can be genuinely thrilling.
The not-E3 livestreams continue and Xbox Games Showcase was Microsoft's latest attempt to woo us into buying their shiny things. Though Xbox Series X garnered a few nods, it was all about the games, but what did we think of them?
A short teaser, but sweet nonetheless.
Xbox fans have spent the current console generation begging for more exclusive titles, and it looks like the upcoming Xbox Series X will address that. I can’t say that any games shown at Microsoft’s first-party 20/20 event were visual showstoppers, but the diversity was certainly impressive.
Halo Infinite looks like it’ll be a bombastic blast, Everwild seems serene and thoroughly lovely, while Tell Me Why and As Dusk Falls tackle deeper themes usually reserved for smaller stages.
Though it was disappointing not to see any new footage from Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II following last year’s immense debut trailer, a specific trio of reveals more than made up for it.
State of Decay and Fable are perhaps my favourite Xbox-exclusive franchises, so seeing new instalments from both is exciting if not fully unexpected. Avowed, on the other hand, took me by surprise. Obsidian’s RPG looks to be a marriage of The Elder Scrolls and The Lord of the Rings, with just a tinge of FromSoftware - that’s basically a recipe for perfection in my eyes!
Best of all? Everything I’ve talked about (and everything I’ve not) will be available on Game Pass. Plus there’s still more to come! Only 9/15 developers comprising Xbox Game Studios have shown their hand so far.
Can Ninja Theory top the original Hellblade?
Halo Infinite seems to be getting a lot of stick following the Xbox Games Showcase, but I for one thought everything shown looked excellent (apart from those odd Minecraft-like cliffs) and it was very much my highlight of the event.
Gameplay looks like a return to the classic Halo formula, which is excellent news, but even better than that, there wasn’t a Promethean in sight! I’m not against the inclusion of new enemy factions, but I think Halo just works better when it’s you versus the classic Grunt/Jackal, Elite/Brute Covenant setup (or in Infinite’s case, The Banished).
As for the rest of the show, I thought Rare’s Everwild and Obsidian’s Avowed both looked intriguing, even I’m still not completely sure what either is about, and, like Chris, I think that Vermintide 2’s combat in a futuristic setting, which is what Warhammer 40,000: Darktide seems to be, is an appealing prospect.
For some reason I also found the news of Destiny 2’s impending arrival on Game Pass surprisingly pleasing, despite owning a physical copy of the game and never actually playing it. Perhaps the ease of access and extra content will be enough to convince me to give it another try.
Rallying around in a Warthog looks just as fun as ever.
After deciding to not get either next gen console on release this year, I came at the Xbox show from a very different perspective to normal - as a cross-platform gamer.
Fortunately with every release card there was additional information, highlighting the games were for PC too and those which, importantly, would be debuting on Game Pass. As a result, subscribers could get invested in these games by default, due to the minimal barrier to entry.
One of the titles which did stick out, which we’d heard about before but seen fairly little, was Psychonauts 2. As someone who’s heard good things about the original my interest is certainly piqued by the latest trailer.
While Halo: Infinite will offer plenty of opportunities for slashing, no doubt (those Grunts won’t massacre themselves, after all), the prospect of a return to the world of Phantasy Star Online, with New Genesis: Phantasy Star Online 2, is enticing. While many might not be familiar with the first game, its debut on the Gamecube in particular marked the beginning of the internet gaming era for some, including yours truly, and so the nostalgia repeaters were on full blast from the off.
While it might take a while to see some of the titles on show, there were only one or two which held no interest at all, which suggests the future is looking fairly bright for Xbox fans.
Did you get that same hit of nostalgia?
Catch up with the Xbox Games Showcase below and share your thoughts with us.
Ubisoft Forward gave us a glimpse of the future, with details about Watch Dogs: Legion, Assassin's Creed Valhalla and some of Ubisoft's other flagship franchises. Have they done enough to grab your attention or is it just more of the same?
So much potential...
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, Far Cry 6 and Watch Dogs: Legion - as different as these games may seem on the surface, they all boil down to the same rote formula.
Assassin’s Creed Origins mixed things up back in 2017 and I gave credit where it was due. I did, however, also hypothesise that the new direction would be recycled ad nauseum and the franchise would soon find itself feeling tired again. That happened immediately, as very little changed in Odyssey and very little looks to be new with Valhalla.
Far Cry 6 manages to be in a worse position. The series peaked with 2012’s excellent Far Cry 3, with every reskinned sequel thereafter getting more and more drab. It’s caused me to hate what FC3 now represents, despite loving the game initially.
Watch Dogs 2 was actually a decent improvement over the original, but the implementation of Legion's differentiating mechanic is really underwhelming. Being able to recruit and play as almost any NPC is certainly ambitious, but the characters lack true individuality and recruiting them is a simple case of granting tedious requests.
I’ve basically played all of these games before. Bothering to keep up with the most prevalent Ubisoft franchises is a genuine chore at this point, and something I’m not going to sign up for.
Will Valhalla be just another reskinned Origins?
I am too old and slow (in real life and video games) for twitch shooting and parkour, so as much as I thought Hyper Scape’s setting was a cool one, I’ll definitely be giving it a miss. Cowering by the gas and hoping people don’t notice me is my preferred battle royale strategy, and CoD Warzone allows me to do that just fine.
Far Cry 6’s cinematic trailer was very well made, and set the tone of the game’s story nicely, but it would have been good to see some actual gameplay. I haven’t enjoyed a Far Cry game since the underrated Primal, and I could be tempted back.
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla gameplay was what I was expecting it to be, but I thought the central map in your hub area that shows what alliances you’ve made was a cool addition. It gives me hope that we’ll be able to build and expand our settlement through other, less brutal means, and not just hours of violence.
Most impressive though was Watch Dogs: Legion. I had no interest in the previous games but being able to recruit random, throwaway characters off the street and utilise their unique skill sets for missions just seems like chaotic, silly fun.
Chaotic, silly fun just about sums it up.
Unfortunately for Ubisoft, a couple of things were stuck in my mind going into the reveals of its Forward event. Firstly, Far Cry 6 (while hardly unexpected anyway) leaked, including the inclusion of its Breaking Bad alumni antagonist, Giancarlo Esposito.
Secondly, and more importantly, there have been significant and widespread allegations of misconduct across the company, which has led to a number of executives being “allowed” to go on “extended leave” while investigations are made, while others have left the organisation.
That shouldn’t be cause to punish the hard work of the developers who have put these new games together, but it shouldn’t be ignored either.
As far as the games themselves are concerned, I found Far Cry 5 to be pleasant enough, but ultimately more bark than bite when it came to making a point. We’ll see if the sixth installment, this time set in the Cuba-esque country of Yara, has anything memorable to say, or will we be longing for the series’ past glories instead.
From the rest, Watch Dogs looks set to not live up to its gimmick, Assassin’s Creed has a lot to prove and Hyper Scape hasn’t quite sunk in just yet.
If Giancarlo Esposito isn't enough to get you excited, there's also an adorable pooch.
What was your highlight from Ubisoft Forward?
The release of Deadly Premonition 2 prompted Sam to suggest this week's topic. Let's celebrate the flawed gems, the less-than-perfects, the games that are objectively bad but have captured our hearts regardless.
Check it out if you've a thing for unbridled chaos and nothing else.
Liam | Fallout 76
Fallout 76 had a notoriously bad launch, but when a Black Friday deal saw its price significantly reduced not long after the initial release, I couldn’t resist picking it up, despite its dodgy reputation.
Knowing it got a terrible reception from both fans and media alike probably helped me to enjoy the game more than I should have, as I went in with very low expectations. But I found I kept coming back for more even after my initial “let’s just see how bad it is” phase was up.
Yes, there were loads of bugs (it is a Bethesda game, after all) including a very frustrating encounter with invisible enemies. Yes, the visuals are a bit dated and the fast travel system is severely hampered by the need to spend caps in order to use it, but, despite these and other flaws - including a lack of human NPCs - I had fun with it.
The shooting was the kind of wonky, post-apocalyptic rustiness I expected from a Fallout game, and the addition of online players were not the army of ever present griefers everyone feared they would be, but rather an occasional source of assistance for new players.
There should be new players aplenty, now that Fallout 76 has hit Xbox Game Pass.
Sam | Deadly Premonition
It’s no secret that Deadly Premonition is objectively awful in many, many ways. Despite all of its flaws, the game manages to capture a special something that cements it in “so-bad-it’s-good” territory.
While being comparable to cult classic films like Tommy Wiseau’s The Room, what Deadly Premonition achieves is even more impressive; as a videogame, it has a lot more to overcome. Combat and driving are indefensibly bad and only serve to drag the experience down, but the sheer weirdness of Deadly Premonition’s story and characters won me (and many others) over.
You eat breakfast with doddering old Polly Oxford while sitting at opposite ends of her enormous dining table, yelling at one another in an effort to be heard. The “Sinner’s Sandwich” is intended as punishment to atone for past sins, though protagonist Francis York Morgan happily wolfs them down as treats. If enjoying turkey, jam and cereal sandwiches isn’t enough indication that York is insane, he often talks to an invisible companion about real-world mundanities at the most inopportune times.
A decade later, the sequel is due out this Friday exclusively on Nintendo Switch. Deadly Premonition 2: A Blessing in Disguise actually has a lower Metacritic average than the original, which, in fittingly bizarro fashion, has me all kinds of excited to discover the hot mess that’s currently making its way to me via Royal Mail.
Enjoy your awful sequel, Sam!
James | Red Faction: Armageddon
The excitement of a new Red Faction game after the outstanding Red Faction: Guerilla had my hopes high.
What crazy, fun and unique multiplayer modes would we get? How much better would distribution be this time? Will we discover another tinge of red as we explore the surface?
As it turned out, Armageddon wasn't quite what I expected it to be. The sequel swapped free-roaming for linear, underground shooting and the multiplayer? All but gone.
Nonetheless, the focused up single player campaign was strangely charming, as we learned how the nano rifle came to be and saw it transition into a borderline game-breakingly good weapon.
There's less destruction on show and it changes a lot about what made the first one good, and yet I still managed to enjoy it. Perhaps I'm secretly part Martian?
James being a Martian is the only possible explanation.
Which terrible games do you have a soft spot for?
Though it may seem like time is meaningless, we've passed the halfway point of 2020 and, thankfully, there's no turning back. The following titles have kept us entertained through uncertain times and are already strong contenders for Game of the Year.
And the art style isn't too shabby either.
James | Animal Crossing: New Horizons
When 2020 began I wasn't expecting to be as excited about digging up fossils on a daily basis as I ended up being.
Nonetheless I stand before you having completed the museum's fossil section in New Horizons and with a sense of accomplishment uncommon in a big-budget release. Thanks to the drip feed of fish, bugs and art though, I'll be busy for a while yet.
Minecraft is a game which has done a lot to spark creativity over the years, and during lockdown in particular I've seen Horizons play host to everything from complex gameshows to elaborate recreations of landmarks and architecture styles.
It's not the most innovative game at first glance, but the various interwoven systems (and the countless frustrations that come with them…) create a wide range of things to do with little of the stress or anxiety you can experience in other, more structured games.
The wholesome nature of everything is enough to cause even the most cynical to relent and raise a wry smile and you'll probably even get one or two villagers who are fun to talk to.
Don't let the cutesy visuals fool you, Animal Crossing is a game for everyone.
Liam | Call of Duty: Warzone
Call of Duty: Warzone might look a lot like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, (no, not that Modern Warfare, the other one) which launched late 2019, but the standalone Battle Royale portion was actually released this March, and therefore qualifies as my Game of the Half-Year.
Apart from a brief dabble with Fortnite, the BR bandwagon has pretty much passed me by, so I was a bit surprised by how much I enjoyed Infinity Ward’s take on the last-team-standing formula.
Perhaps it’s the classic gunplay, or the mass appeal that has seen long dormant names on my friends list suddenly reactivated, but I haven’t had this much fun with a Call of Duty title since the series’ heyday over ten years ago.
Surviving frantic final circles, plotting winning strategies and picking fights with bounties is, and continues to be, a bloody good time, especially with a full squad of mates in tow. It’s even better when you consider the game costs absolutely nothing and still comes with plenty of content – including the criminally underrated Plunder mode.
The only downsides are the frequent (not to mention large!) updates whose only purpose seems to be to try and evict every other game from my console’s hard drive.
Deciding what games to delete is half the battle.
Sam | The Last of Us Part II
The Last of Us 2 has gotten a bad rap based largely on leaks and misinformation, but setting aside preconceived notions and actually playing it was an experience to say the least. I’ll be keeping things vague, but fair warning that narrative themes and structure are discussed here.
Juxtaposing gorgeous visuals and often grotesque violence, The Last of Us 2 is a tragic story that you experience from two sides of the same coin. Each has their questionable reasons for vile actions, though somehow, I came to root for both. More than anything, I hoped that human decency would prevail and beget peace in the end.
If I was pushed to come down on one side or the other, however, it'd be that of a newcomer and the so-called “antagonist” of the story. TLoU2 challenged my perception via perspective and prompted a complete u-turn. While I can think of other moral twists in entertainment media, they all rely on a somewhat cheesy “Aha!” moment. Here it’s done slowly and subtly enough that I didn’t realise until I caught myself rooting for the “wrong” person, questioned it, then affirmed that I definitely was.
That’s a first for me and has stuck with me in the days since. I’ve thought about this game constantly after completing it, plus discussed and debated about it online. I’m more involved with the world and characters now than I ever was after playing the original - which was also excellent - and keeping my fingers crossed that we’ll eventually see more.
Are there any heroes in this story?
Let us know which games would make your list.