It’s finally happened. The PlayStation 5’s standard and digital editions now have not only a release date, but a price point. The disc-friendly version will set you back £450 (the same as an Xbox Series X), while the digital-leaning iteration is £360. You can get your hands on one from 19 November, should you be able to snag a pre-order.
Now that we have all the prices and release dates for the next generation of consoles, are you tempted by the shiny new boxes? Are you going to hold off until the prices drop and more games come out? We asked the team where they stand on the PS5 after Sony’s latest showcase event.
The PS4 still has some impressive looking games coming its way.
The price gap between the two cheaper consoles – £110 between the Xbox Series S and the PS5 Digital Edition – could make all the difference for a lot of people. The added benefit of Game Pass for Xbox, plus the flexible pricing options mean it’s a sensible choice for most people this Christmas.
Like Liam, I’m yet to play many of the PS4’s best exclusives, and with new games still getting PS4 releases you could be better off picking up a cheaper PS4 Pro. You'd get plenty of graphical performance from cross-gen games like Forbidden West and Miles Morales, while also saving money at a time that’s tight for many.
The backpedaling, highlighted by Eurogamer, shouldn’t be missed either. Sony was clear that these new game experiences would be a generational leap, making them out of reach of the previous generation, but now they suddenly seem more achievable on the PS4. Add to that the sketchy presentation of some “exclusives” which will actually be coming to other platforms later and it represents a serious cause for concern.
If you’re dying to play the new God of War though, you can be sure that the PS5 is the fastest and highest-fidelity way to do so, which may just be enough to make it a no-brainer for you. For everyone else, a bit of patience might go a long way.
Was the PC announcement really "human error," or will the Demon's Souls remake eventually make its way to other platforms?
While paling in comparison to Xbox Game Pass, I’d argue that the PlayStation Plus Collection makes a compelling argument for upgrading to PS5 if you still need to catch up on all things PS4. Both James and Liam recommend a PS4 Pro for the time being, but you could put that money towards the PlayStation 5 instead and gain access to a library of the biggest and best PlayStation 4 games almost by default.
Exclusive games have always been what draws me towards one console or another. Opinions on games are subjective, of course, but if you’re in it for the big launch titles then PS5 is worth a pre-order for Demon’s Souls and Spider-Man: Miles Morales alone. Learning that both of those would be available from day one convinced me to pre-order, anyway.
I still plan to buy an Xbox Series X, but I’m not looking forward to playing anything in particular on Microsoft’s next-gen console come launch day. Xbox is a far greater value proposition with Game Pass Ultimate and backwards compatibility for both software and hardware peripherals, but it just doesn’t have those big-budget titles to really draw me in from the get go.
From where I stand, whether you should purchase a PS5 depends on what appeals to you more. Is it the sizzle of exclusive games you can’t play anywhere except PlayStation? Or is it the consumer friendliness that Xbox brings to the table, albeit without much excitement.
A PlayStation Plus subscription could be an alternative way to experience classic PS4 exclusives on the latest tech.
Will you be pre-ordering a PlayStation 5? If so, which one? Let us know below or in the forums.
After much anticipation, Microsoft finally lifted the lid on its Christmas console release plans, announcing a new Xbox, the less powerful Xbox Series S, as well as the prices for both next generation consoles.
Big brother the Xbox Series X will be £449, while the Series S, which lacks a disc drive and some of the more impressive frills, costs £249.
On top of that, the Xbox All Access programme makes the barrier to owning one of these beauties lower than usual, with monthly finance options to spread the cost over two years.
So, the big question this week is: Which is the right console for you? We put our heads together to try to make sense of it all.
Is there a tiny Master Chief lurking somewhere inside the Series X amongst all that impressive tech?
James has already covered the technical specs and objectively weighed the pros and cons of each new Xbox, so I’ll mostly leave that alone.
Personally, I’ll be opting for the Xbox Series X at launch. As one of the diehards that the more powerful console is aimed at, it’s really a no-brainer. I’m someone that wants to get the most out of their game collection, and also a 4K TV owner, which makes Xbox Series X’s targeted 4K resolution a winning feature.
That being said, the Xbox Series S presents outrageously good value for money. A next generation console that costs less than the Nintendo Switch and the same as a PlayStation 4 will be too good a deal to pass up for many. Throw in the optional Xbox All Access financing plan, which includes Game Pass Ultimate and more than enough games to keep you busy, and Microsoft has somehow managed to make next-gen gaming affordable in the midst of a financial crisis.
With Apple stubbornly blocking xCloud streaming on iOS devices, I’ve been looking to buy an Android device that allows me to take Xbox gaming on the go. Since something capable usually costs more than a Series S and is subject to streaming stability, I’m considering also grabbing one of the budget-friendly consoles as a travel companion for extended time spent away from home.
Its suitcase-friendly size and low price point could make the Series S the perfect travel companion.
Considering both of my previous two Xbox consoles - a limited edition Halo 5-themed base model and a Project Scorpio edition Xbox One X - cost me 500 euros (I was living in Europe at the time of purchase), the fact that I can upgrade to a next-gen Xbox for just £249 is utterly bonkers.
Although leaks and rumours had all but confirmed the existence of the Series S before its official reveal earlier this week, I hadn’t given it much thought, and it was pretty much a given that I’d be picking up a Series X at some point.
Now, however, Microsoft have given me a real dilemma. On paper, the Series S seems like a perfect fit; it’s cheap, it’s streamlined, it’ll presumably run next-gen games just as well as the Series X (at least performance-wise) and I don’t own a 4K TV or plan on getting one any time soon. Did I mention it’s cheap?
The only caveat is the missing disc drive. Granted, I’ve not bought an Xbox game for a while thanks to Game Pass, and those I have bought were usually digital purchases picked up during a sale, but it’s a big omission for someone who likes collecting physical copies of games.
The cause of, and solution to, a lot of next-gen dilemmas.
Will you be opting for the Series S or Series X this November? Let us know your thoughts below.
While the crowds might not have descended on Cologne in Germany for the biggest gaming event of the year, Gamescom still brought together the biggest trailers and game reveals it could muster, virtually, starting with the 2-hour Opening Night Live stream.
We’ve pondered the selection and picked out a few of our favourite moments. Be sure to let us know what you’re looking forward to in our comments section.
The Skywalker Saga is looking Crait.
Gamescom 2020 didn’t do much for me. I’m excited about several of the featured games, but most didn’t present anything new or of substance during the digital event.
Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart left me impressed following its initial reveal, though the footage that capped off Opening Night Live largely retread the same ground. It was a similar situation with Mafia: Definitive Edition, which received a short trailer when just a couple of days prior lengthy previews were all over YouTube.
Dragon Age 4 is another I’m looking forward to that didn’t show particularly well. We’ve known it’s on the way for years, but still we only get looks at concept art and character models; well, that and what could be empty promises from BioWare.
Indies fared better, as they did during last month’s State of Play, with Little Nightmares 2 and 12 Minutes putting in strong showings. Bridge Constructor: The Walking Dead also proved surprisingly compelling, mostly for its sheer outlandishness.
Finally, Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond left a sour taste due to questionable marketing. The classic series’ return looks impressive, which is why I got all excited to see Oculus Quest as a supported platform. Take a moment to check the smallprint, however, and it becomes clear that there isn’t actually a dedicated Quest version. Instead, you’ll need a compatible PC and an Oculus Link cable… which kinda defeats the purpose of owning an all-in-one VR headset, no?
You'll still need a beefy PC to enjoy Respawn's Above and Beyond.
DIRT 5 is a game that continues to pique my interest, even though I’m not that much of a racing fan (though I did enjoy Codemasters’ GRID reboot). I’m not exactly big on map editors, either, but DIRT 5’s playground mode shown off during the stream looks surprisingly robust, and the teaser for a vampire mode, which I assume is a vehicular take on infection, has me intrigued.
Elsewhere, Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War continues to sound promising, although as a fan of the original Black Ops, it’s still a bit weird hearing Mason, Hudson and Woods without their original voice actors. I especially like the idea of the campaign’s optional objectives and nonlinear elements, and I look forward to experiencing them as my hastily made protagonist - character creators be damned!
Star Wars Squadrons was the highlight of the show, however, and I am thoroughly looking forward to its release next month. Everything I’ve seen of the game so far has me convinced it could very well be the modern-day Rogue Squadron I’ve been waiting for, and even though I’m going to be picking it up on Xbox One, if I end up getting a PS5 I’ll be seriously tempted to double dip just for VR support.
Probably the closest we'll get to a new Rogue Squadron.
What were your highlights from Gamescom? Let us know below or in the forums.
The final Marvel’s Avengers beta has only just finished and we recently got our first glimpse of Gotham Knights in action, so we thought it's about time to resurrect that decades old argument: Marvel or DC?
James | Gotham Knights
While Marvel have had a fairly firm stranglehold on the film universe for over a decade, their gaming past has been less successful.
Enter Marvel's Avengers, trotting out by now very familiar characters, Kamala aside, and asking the gaming public to love them.
While designs have been tweaked slightly since the initial reveal (see Thor's new hair do), the gameplay feels like an abstract mix of gameplay ideas which don't quite hang together convincingly.
Contrast that with DC in general. Not only is there the stunning Injustice games beating out Marvel efforts in the fighting genre and more charismatic portrayals in their LEGO games, there's the Arkham series, which took superhero games to a whole new level back in 2009.
Where Marvel has an ace in the hole though, as in the MCU, is Spider-Man. The Miles Morales-led expansion of the 2018 PS4 outing for Spidey looks shiny and will make the most of the PS5. Arguably though the combat that made the first so compelling is strongly influenced by the aforementioned Arkham series, giving DC the last laugh.
Batman taught Spidey everything he knows.
Sam | Gotham Knights
Having played the Marvel’s Avengers beta over the weekend, I was left pretty underwhelmed. In fact, I couldn’t even be bothered to finish all of the missions and quit out before the end. Throw in the controversy surrounding Spider-Man’s PlayStation exclusivity and, somehow, Square Enix has managed to turn this Marvel fan away.
Gotham Knights, on the other hand, came as a nice surprise. The game’s DC FanDome reveal was expected in advance, though with Warner Bros. Montréal at the helm and not Batman: Arkham custodians Rocksteady I half feared the worst. WB Montréal’s Batman: Arkham Origins is hardly the acclaimed series’ highpoint, after all.
Granted we need to learn more about Gotham Knights to draw reliable comparisons, but the co-op gameplay shown in the reveal showcase puts what we’ve seen (and played) of Marvel’s Avengers to shame. There’s a veritable mix of combat and stealth, along with thoughtful use of gadgetry and teamwork; Avengers just tasks players with barrelling in and mashing buttons instead.
You can argue that there’s a place for that and you’d be right, but it got boring over the course of a single evening with the beta. When Marvel’s Avengers plans to stick around for years to come, that’s serious cause for concern.
It's not real co-op without fancy tag team abilities.
Liam | Gotham Knights
I missed out on the Marvel’s Avengers beta, so I’m still judging where I’ll get my next superhero fix with information gleaned from trailers and gameplay footage. Having just caught up on the deluge of justice coming our way, I can say that Gotham Knights has edged it.
The fact that it’s made by Warner Bros. Montreal and not Rocksteady doesn’t bother me the slightest. I know Arkham Origins is not held in as high regard as Rocksteady’s efforts (even though it still has its fans), but what I’ve seen of gameplay looks solid and reassuringly familiar.
I also think ditching Batman is a good idea, as not only do we get an opportunity to play as some of the lesser known heroes, but it eliminates the inevitable arguments that would have come about (at least in co-op) from everyone wanting to play as the Dark Knight.
But the inclusion of the Court of Owls and their Talon assassins as potential big baddies was by far the most exciting part of the Gotham Knights reveal trailer. Having read the comics in which they debuted as antagonists, they make an excellent ‘hidden hand’ type organisation, and Chris will be glad to know they’re also quite fond of psychedelic torture.
Whoever the Court of Owls are, you can be sure they're up to no good.
Are you more hyped for Marvel's Avengers or Gotham Knights?
The latest State of Play was a rather toned-down affair. Sony had previously confirmed that it was, once again, all about the games, with no news on the upcoming console, but were those games enough?
Ol' Big Face returns for a walloping.
Sony’s latest State of Play was the first time I’d seen Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time in action, and I have to say it impressed me. I’m not the biggest platformer fan out there, but the lovely art-style and slick gameplay certainly has me tempted (I especially liked the gameplay changing new game+ modes). Even though it might not be a day-one purchase, the footage has got me thinking about going back and exploring a series I’ve yet to fully appreciate.
Other highlights included The Pathless. As a big fan of Abzu, I’m definitely interested in Giant Squid’s next project. The fluid traversal system, in which you hit targets with a bow to keep up momentum, looks like it’ll be incredibly satisfying, and, like Abzu, I like the whole wordless mystique surrounding the game’s setting (not to mention the adorable eagle companion and big boss battles).
I wasn’t so sure about HITMAN 3 and it’s virtual murder (a bit too grim for me), but the inclusion of VR news (and Vader Immortal) in the stream was welcome, although my last lingering hopes for a potential PS VR 2 reveal ahead of the PS5’s winter launch seem a bit fruitless at this point.
Oh, how we've missed the dulcet tones of Aku Aku.
Sony managed expectations going into its latest State of Play, though it was still somewhat underwhelming. By no means bad, but just okay.
HITMAN VR is intriguing, though since getting the supremely convenient Oculus Quest I struggle to muster much enthusiasm for PlayStation VR. Same issue with Vader Immortal, which has been available on Quest for quite some time.
When it comes to games you play on the telly, indies won the day. Braid: Anniversary Edition is the perfect reason to experience or revisit one of the inaugural indie darlings; Spelunky 2 looks like it’ll be a faithful continuation of the punishingly moreish original; meanwhile, The Pedestrian is one of those ingenious-yet-simple concepts that make you wonder “Why didn’t I think of that?”
Most of the show was dedicated to PS4, though Sony did throw us a bone with some PS5 gameplay. The Pathless looks lovely, and I appreciate the lack of a map to encourage spontaneous exploration. We finally have an idea of what Bugsnax will be outside of an internet meme as well, which might be something akin to Slime Rancher? Maybe? It wasn’t immediately clear what Hood: Outlaws & Legends is either, though it at least looks more entertaining than fellow next-gen brawler Godfall.
We're hoping for Slime Rancher meets Red Dead Redemption 2.
While the return of Crash Bandicoot seemed inevitable after he returned last year in remastered form, a title I don’t know, but have heard a fair amount about, is Braid, and that commentary track seems interesting.
Really it was the in-game, PS5 footage from The Pathless which really demanded attention by showing off a more deliberate art style, though admittedly one that is very possible on current gen, with the gameplay shown giving off a real Breath of the Wild vibe. The climactic boss battle with one of the cursed spirits in particular had a great sense of scale to it as well.
The Star Wars VR title Vader Immortal gives an impression similar to the one Star Wars Kinect did a fair while ago, which leaves me extremely sceptical. HITMAN 3 on the other hand offers a neat spin on the tried-and-tested franchise with its first-person VR perspective.
The Pokémon Snap-inspired Bugsnax is looking just as quirky as it did on first impression, though not as Pokémon derivative as TemTem. The Pedestrian fares better with its slightly overdressed puzzling and a final highlight for me was the snippet of Control’s latest expansion, which is almost enough to claw me back in...almost.
There's something familiar about The Pathless...
What did you think of last week's State of Play?
During the latest Marvel's Avengers War Table livestream, Hawkeye was announced as the first post-launch DLC character. Spider-Man has since been confirmed as a PlayStation exclusive. With a long list of other superhumans to choose from, these are the heroes (and villains) we'd like to see added next.
There's no need for myriad customisation options when you already look like this.
Liam | Damage Control
Damage Control has been around for a long time, but I only discovered the stories a couple of years ago when someone handed me a collection of comics for Christmas.
Although I was initially sceptical, it turned out stories about a company formed just to clean up the chaos caused by rampaging heroes and villains could be surprisingly entertaining, and I think the concept could work just as well (albeit as a bit of a curveball) in the upcoming Marvel’s Avengers.
I don’t think it would be fair to pit a bunch of technicians and middle management up against the likes of AIM and its armies (though it could be sadistically fun!) so Damage Control missions would instead be used to break up the action, with players given the opportunity to unwind and de-clutter the ravaged streets.
Perhaps as an extra incentive to play clean up, players could uncover hidden items left behind by heroes and villains in the rubble of destroyed structures, or come across some of the more fantastical characters that crop up in Damage Control lore - such as sentient buildings that want to go travelling - and have to negotiate solutions to these types of bizarre problems.
The behind-the-scenes workers of the Marvel universe deserve more credit.
Sam | Professor X
Professor X is the eponymous leader of the X-Men and a beacon of all things good in mutantkind. Charles Xavier insists that Homo sapiens and Homo superior can coexist, despite his species’ greater power and humanity’s many flaws. If that isn't a noble enough cause to earn the Oxford graduate a place on the heroic Marvel’s Avengers roster, I don’t know what is.
Xavier would fit narratively, serving as a leader to help reunite the team during the A-Day Aftermath that’s explored within the upcoming action game. He’s also the perfect counter to leading villain M.O.D.O.K., possessing his own great intellect and suite of mental powers that are used to opposite ends.
Professor X is most commonly depicted with a disability, and keeping him confined to a wheelchair would add diversity to both the in-game representations and mechanics. Having spent the last week wreaking havoc in Destroy All Humans! (2020), it can be a lot of fun to fling enemies around telekinetically and telepathically extract brains. There’d be far fewer cranial extractions, granted, but with a little expansion on the core concept a mentally-powered combatant with limited mobility could work.
He’d especially shine in co-op, serving in a befitting support role. A more direct comparison here would be to Bleeding Edge healer Zero Cool, who also occupies a chair, if this time entirely by choice.
Few heroes are better suited to taking on the mind-bending M.O.D.O.K.
James | Gambit
Unloved in the cinematic world and a fairly consistent background player in video games over the years, the X-men’s other gruff-voiced loner, Gambit, could be a fun - if unlikely - powerset to throw into the Avengers’ mix.
Given the characters already on the team, Gambit could be a quieter presence, almost a Solid Snake-like presence to tackle a more covert type of mission, on the Black Widow end of the spectrum, compared to the bombastic action of The Hulk or Iron Man.
You might think it’s all about throwing a few playing cards around, but in fact, Gambit’s ability to turn potential energy into kinetic energy could be applied to almost anything. It could be difficult to balance without breaking the game, presenting a challenge for developer Crystal Dynamics, but could make for some really interesting gameplay.
How well he’d play when teaming up with the rest of the group could be interesting too, combining with other powers, and we know from the trailers alone there’s plenty of story time when the group aren’t diving into battle, which could bring an interesting twist to the story side of the game as well.
A fan-favourite hero for many from back in the 90s cartoon days, this could be Gambit’s chance to get some time in the spotlight.
It's been too long since Gambit had a chance to shine.
Who would you like to see added to Marvel's Avengers?
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.