VR prequel Half-Life: Alyx released last week and though it may not be the sequel we were all wanting, it gives us a faint glimmer of hope that Valve could finally bring the series to a satisfying conclusion one day. Will that ever be the case for these sought-after sequels that seem unlikely to see the light of day, though?
Though, a Far Cry-like skill tree is almost certain to feature.
Liam | Star Wars: Rogue Squadron 4
Rogue Squadron is my favourite Star Wars gaming series, and, as unlikely as it seems, it would be great to see it revived in some way on modern hardware.
According to the video below, which I only recently saw for the first time, it appears there were numerous attempts to reboot the franchise following the series’ successes on the N64 and Nintendo GameCube, including remasters and all-new entries for the Xbox 360/PS3/Wii era.
None of those projects ever came to fruition, sadly, and it doesn’t look like that will be rectified anytime soon, since original developer Factor 5 ended up closing down for good more than a decade ago following financial trouble.
A shame, because the Dark Squadron spin-off that was said to have been in production at some point, in which you played as Darth Vader as he took the fight to the Rebels, sounded like an interesting new direction for the series to go in, what with Luke and Co. having been firmly in the spotlight previously.
While it’s very unlikely we’ll ever get Rogue Squadron 4, I’m still hopeful there’s an old fan somewhere at EA that’s championing this fantastic series. Perhaps a Xbox Series X/PlayStation 5 remaster is in order, just to test the waters?
With multiple new entries in the Star Wars canon, Rogue Squadron 4 could us on an interesting journey.
Sam | Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem
2002’s Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem was well ahead of its time. Released exclusively for the GameCube, it’s a psychological thriller featuring several different playable protagonists that occupy different historical periods.
In itself that was ambitious for the time - and still would be today, to an extent - though by also breaking the fourth wall in creative ways things were taken that bit further. Eternal Darkness definitely took cues from the iconic Psycho Mantis boss encounter in Metal Gear Solid, and is perhaps just as fondly remembered on the whole.
After scoring an impressive 92/100 on Metacritic, its sequel seemed like an inevitable matter of when and not if. Until no confirmation came for over a decade and then developer Silicon Knights went out of business, that is…
We’d learn that Eternal Darkness 2 had been in active development, and that the team’s demise brought an unfortunate end to the project. Despite that, key figures reconverged as Precursor Games and sought to crowdsource a follow-up titled Shadow of the Eternals.
Unfortunately, the game failed to meet its funding goal… twice over. Precursor disbanded and Eternal Darkness has remained dormant ever since, much to the disappointment of survival horror fanatics.
Though it may look like a simple Resident Evil clone, Eternal Darkness had a unique take on psychological horror.
James | Left 4 Dead 3
While it’s a running joke that Valve can’t count to three, the real joke is this teasing they are doing in raising our hopes for the return of Half-Life at all.
As far as other sequels we might never be graced with though, I was torn between Portal 3 and L4D3 for this topic and in the end it feels as though the Left 4 Dead world has more to offer, despite how played-out zombies as a concept may seem.
The joy of a game of Scavenge in Left 4 Dead 2 may be one of the most rewarding and exciting new game modes for cooperative multiplayer in the last 20 years (or, if you’re being picky, simply a clever twist on the capture the flag).
It’s been tried of course, with original game creators Turtle Rock spinning up Evolve and more recently Earthfall trying to tread a similar path, but perhaps - just like Half-Life: Alyx - Valve’s urge to innovate and change the game could be the missing ingredient.
Imagine the vindictive AI director - a key factor in giving the game its replayability - beefed up with the power of cloud computing, and a few procedurally-generated elements thrown in for good measure, keeping the experience fresh, exciting and an unexpected challenge every time.
Rather than relying on the tropes of zombie games to carry it through, Left 4 Dead built its foundation on solid gameplay and well-executed, simple ideas. Then, on top of that, it sprinkled its lore naturally throughout, with suggestions scrawled on walls by survivors and campaigns which only hint at the extent of the event which ravaged its world. It’s time to lock and load, and don’t forget the pills.
Will Valve ever release a properly numbered second sequel?
Let us know which unlikely sequels you'd like to see.
DOOM Eternal and Animal Crossing: New Horizons are out this week, both being anticipated sequels years in the making. Only time will tell if they live up to expectations, but hopefully they can channel these iconic sequels that shook franchises up for the better.
And the iconic duo have both cameoed in Injustice. Who's next?
Sam | Grand Theft Auto III
Grand Theft Auto III best represents the colossal jump from 2D to 3D gaming, in my opinion. A lot of people point toward Super Mario 64 as the standard bearer, but Rockstar’s effort was way more impressive.
The PS2 classic inspired numerous game design philosophies that are still prevalent today, proving just how influential it was. While the graphics and gunplay no longer impress, its narrative, writing and voice overs still hold up better than most of today’s homogenised videogame storytelling.
Back in 2001 a vast majority of games were level-based and linear, so the liberating sandbox design of GTA III was a genuine revolution. Deviating from the main path wasn’t only possible, but it was actively encouraged. Misbehaving didn’t result in instant failure, but would rather invite police intervention. You could enter and exit vehicles at will, instead of scripted sections dictating how you’d travel.
It did a lot of things I’d dreamt about but assumed weren’t possible in games when they never materialised over time. They probably hadn’t been possible before the introduction of the PlayStation 2, when my older brother’s copy of Grand Theft Auto III rocked my seven-year-old world.
Rockstar set the bar for open world games.
Liam | The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker
While The Wind Waker’s core gameplay didn’t stray too far from the series tried and tested formula - namely, beating a series of themed dungeons and their bosses, solving puzzles, unlocking new weapons and abilities etc. - visually, the game was a huge departure from its predecessors.
I remember Toon Link and the accompanying cartoony visuals getting quite a bit of stick when they were first revealed, and while it was admittedly a bit weird seeing the Hero of Time portrayed in such a way after the cool, adult Link seen in Ocarina of Time, I quickly got used to, then fell in love with, the art style.
Gone were the blurry browns and dark greens of old Hyrule, and in their place a crisp, wonderful, literal sea of colour that uplifted the whole experience. Yes, there was the usual peril for players to deal with, but somehow it all felt new and vibrant when seen through a cel-shaded lens.
Other Zelda games have dabbled in similar visual styles since, but none have made quite the same dramatic impact (at least for me) as The Wind Waker did back in 2003.
Hyrule looks great at this time of year.
James | Max Payne 3
While the genre-defining bullet time – a gameplay effect which made time go all Matrix-y – was present in the very first outing for Max, it’s hard to argue that the series didn’t reach the height of its potential with Max Payne 3.
Rockstar Games took over production from creators Remedy (who went on to make the similarly time-bending Quantum Break and Control), and brought a more compelling narrative and grizzled characterisation for Max.
On top of that the controls were familiar enough for those who had dabbled in the earlier iterations but far more familiar to those who had played other Rockstar outings like Grand Theft Auto.
The icing on the cake though was the multiplayer component, which brought the game to life like never before and consistently provided memorable and stunning experiences – though it might have had less players than Rockstar would have liked.
Its use of bullet time in multiplayer in particular is something which few games had done before, and was pulled off with both technical precision and in a way which enhanced the gameplay without it feeling like a cheap gimmick.
Plus Payne Killer is such a great name for a mode.
No-one does bullet time quite like Max.
Let us know which sequels you think changed everything.
We're pitting the week's biggest hitters against each other as Ori and the Will of the Wisps released on Xbox One yesterday and Nioh 2 is coming to PlayStation on Friday. Both sequels have been eagerly awaited but which one are we most excited for?
This alone looks like a tough fight.
Sam | Nioh 2
With 2020 having been pretty quiet in terms of new releases so far, I’ve spent a good chunk of time catching up on my (now ever-so-slightly-smaller) backlog. Two of the games I scratched off the list are Ori and the Blind Forest and Nioh, which means I’m coming into this particular skirmish of sequels funky fresh on their forebears.
Honestly, I found the original Ori to be slightly disappointing. It was fundamentally solid, don’t get me wrong, but for years it’d been built up to be something truly standout. It isn’t, to be blunt, but I still had a good time nonetheless.
Nioh had been built up in a similar fashion over the years I elected not to play it in favour of, well, erm, just about every other Souls-like out there. Team Ninja’s effort didn’t disappoint, however. It’s probably the best example of the emerging sub-genre not to be developed by the founding FromSoftware.
Having already played a little Nioh 2, I’m also equipped to say that it’s even better than the original. The uniquely level-based structure is back, which means the second instalment will continue to be more readily accessible than most other Souls-likes. That’s not to say Nioh 2 is basic by any means, though; the toolset available to players this time around is expanded through the introduction of several all-new weapon types and abilities.
A more readily accessible Souls-like is just what the doctor ordered.
James | Ori and the Will of the Wisps
The likes of Ori in particular may have a good reputation, but who has the time? With so many games to get through, even this most recent drought of releases (DOOM (2016) sits on the digital shelf, mocking me) didn't give me the opportunity to get to the acclaimed Metroidvania.
Now that there's a new one around the corner though, the easy availability of the game (as well as the original) on Game Pass will probably be the deciding factor if I do get time to explore one of these two titles.
Seeing as I don't have a PlayStation, this probably won't come as a surprise, but the platforming nature of Ori does bring it closer to my wheelhouse in the form of Rayman Legends and historically a number of 2D platformers, all the way back to Sonic 2.
More than likely the game will go the way of Unravel and Unravel 2 – decent games which perform reasonably well but fail to work their way onto my radar.
Oh, and if you're wondering what I'll be choosing between DOOM Eternal and Animal Crossing next week, here's a clue: I'm terrible at shooters, but also a masochist when it comes to gaming, so I'm at an impasse. If you fancy it, you can help me decide on Twitter.
Will James' admission of being terrible at shooters influence the votes?
Liam | Ori and the Will of the Wisps
Like Chris and James, my abode is still decidedly lacking in the PS4 department, so while Nioh 2 may be going down very well with both the public and gaming media, I’ll not be playing it anytime soon.
That being said, even if I did happen to own the corresponding tech to play it on, there’s not much about Nioh 2 that really appeals to me. Don’t get me wrong, it certainly looks pretty impressive, and I’m sure if you’re into the whole Souls-like thing then it’ll seem marvellous, but those type of games are just not my bag.
To be honest, this whole head-to-head is decidedly underwhelming for me, as I found the original Ori to be nothing special when it made its way to Game Pass. Twice I tried to get past the opening thirty-or-so minutes of the game, but both times it failed to click.
As I’ve still got an active subscription to Game Pass Ultimate, I’ll no doubt give Ori and the Will of Wisps an obligatory try in the future, but I’ll not be going in with elevated expectations like last time. Hopefully it sticks this time, as I would like a reason to give the first game another try.
Here's hoping Liam's third attempt at getting into Ori will be successful.
Let us know which of the week's releases you're most looking forward to.
The Division 2's Warlords of New York expansion is sure to please fans of the series, as it takes players back to the place it all started – The Big Apple. DLC can fundamentally change the game or simply add more of the good stuff, and these downloadable content drops are essential.
Joker's suggested moniker, Prothy the Prothean, did not go down well.
Sam | Dragon Age: Origins - Awakening
After being somewhat enamoured by the concept of DLC following its mass adoption - more from your favourite games is, after all, an exciting prospect - it didn’t take too long for me to fall out of love. It’s been largely bastardised and devalued to the point that I now just ignore 99% of DLC.
I had to look back to the Xbox 360 days to compose a shortlist that largely consisted of the usual suspects. Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare, BioShock 2: Minerva’s Den, The Elder Scrolls IV: Shivering Isles; all are well-recognised for their contributions, but Dragon Age: Origins - Awakening narrowly takes the crown for me.
I’ve sung the praises of Dragon Age: Origins before, and for all the same reasons I love Awakening. What sets it apart, though, is that it’s essentially a sort of quasi-sequel made in the same engine.
Awakening features an all-new cast and narrative underpinned by the same excellent gameplay found in the main game. It can be hard at first to leave your old companions behind, though the (former) masters at BioWare excelled at making you grow attached to the fresh band of virtual vagabonds in no time.
The perfect mix of old and new.
Liam | Call of Duty: World at War - Der Riese
The most fun I’ve probably had with a DLC would have to be Call of Duty: World at War’s Map Pack 3, specifically it's Zombies map, Der Riese. Me and my older brother would regularly link up for a game of “zombs,” so much so that I still remember our preferred strategy more than a decade later.
We’d save ammo and currency during the early rounds by taking out the weaker zombies with a few melee hits, then once they started to speed up, we’d move to the right of the main room where we’d each pick up an MP40 and wait out the next few waves in a long corridor.
We’d stay there until we hit the dogs that appeared every few rounds, replenishing our supplies with the Max Ammo power-up they always dropped. When things became too crowded, we’d make our way towards the back of the factory in the hopes of nabbing a Browning 0.50 cal or MG42 from the mystery box before holing up on a raised platform in the adjacent room.
It was a perfect spot to defend; enemies could only attack us from the front, and we could snipe at them from afar with a pack-a-punched “Wunderwaffe DG-2” if we were lucky enough to have one.
Running and hiding are not options.
James | XCOM 2: War of the Chosen
There isn't a lot of DLC that will draw me back to a game that I've moved on from (though when we get more Control you know it will be beckoning me back in), but XCOM 2's War of the Chosen had me replaying the whole game from start to finish.
Some DLC updates, even substantial ones, can feel tacked-on or disconnected from the rest of the experience. Perhaps your character wakes up one morning and an island is suddenly accessible where it wasn't before, or a new character suddenly appears to give you an intricate series of missions which take you to an area you've been before, but now...it's at night.
War of the Chosen brings us back to the turn-based alien invasion of Earth and adds features like bonds between your squad-mates and negative traits which happen following trauma for your units.
Most importantly, there are charismatic villains in the eponymous Chosen, who bring a sense of dread and panic when they turn up uninvited in the middle of a battle, and ultimately make the climax far more satisfying.
For the record, if you haven't tried the game by now, you can probably pick it up cheaply these days, and the console controls are excellent.
Share your favourite piece of downloadable content with us below.
We seem to be in the midst of a mini hack and slash revival as Bayonetta found its way to Xbox One and PS4 last week and Devil May Cry 3: Special Edition landed on Switch. Here's our favourite games in the, often overlooked, genre.
It looks rather dated now, much as it did upon release.
Liam | Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles: Turtles in Time
It turns out hack and slash is an overlooked genre (in my house, at least) as I drew an absolute blank when it came to picking one for this week’s topic.
The only title I could think of was Darksiders II, which I bought on a whim after reading Sam’s review of the Deathinitive Edition back in 2016, but gave up on it less than halfway through after finding the in-game camera more of a challenge than the Corruption-ridden creatures roaming the Forge Lands.
The game I did want to pick, Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles: Turtles in Time, is, according to the internet, a side scrolling beat ‘em up, but it’s got sharp weapons in it that players use to hack and slash at enemies, so I’m counting it.
It also had a great campaign in which Leonardo and the gang fought their way through all the choice eras of time– the wild west, pirate, prehistoric, neon future – on their quest to beat u… I mean, hack and slash, the Statue of Liberty stealing Shredder into submission.
But wait! It turns out there is a Turtles hack and slash game; the much-maligned Mutants in Manhattan, made by none other than genre specialists, PlatinumGames. Probably one they hope remains overlooked.
Mutants in Manhattan was not their best work.
Sam | Devil May Cry V
There are just a couple of viable options when it comes to crowning the greatest hack and slash game for me. I wouldn’t generally count myself as a fan of the genre, rather someone that very occasionally dabbles, but on two specific occasions I’ve been forced to sit up and take notice.
Playing the original God of War back in the day was something special; I’d never found any game to be more brutal or empowering. From there on out I tried several other games that fit the somewhat loose parameters of the hack and slash genre, only to find that a majority of it was mere mindless dreck.
I ignored pretty much any and everything that didn’t have God of War in the title thereafter - until I decided to give Devil May Cry V a shot last year, that is. It blew me away. The three protagonists all play distinctly and in terms of their mechanics could easily have carried individual games. In fact, Dante alone has so much going on that his massive skill set could’ve been introduced piecemeal over several different titles comprising a new series.
Throughout the entire DMCV campaign you never stop learning and developing as a player. It’s one of the few examples of true mechanical skill progression in gaming, feeling more akin to gaining proficiency at Guitar Hero than just memorising combos like in most other hack and slash games.
This is hack and slash done properly.
James | No More Heroes
If I hadn't brought it up before I might talk about DmC: Devil May Cry (which is excellent, for the record), but instead I'll go back further to the Wii era with No More Heroes.
While not dark and visceral like a Devil May Cry or a Dark Souls, this arcadey, cel-shaded take on doing people in with a beam katana – not a lightsaber, technically – brought me hours of fun in between fraught attempts to complete Resident Evil 4, so it served as quite the palette cleanser.
Series protagonist Travis Touchdown had an irreverent nature and plenty of Deadpool-esque, fourth wall-breaking commentary which lifted the fairly straightforward hack and slash element with the presentation and tone of the entire world.
Combat being a simple series of button presses, rather than the sort of complexity bordering on a fighting game, was definitely the right call for No More Heroes at the time, though it might have been nice to see a bit more variety. When you look as good as Travis did in his red leather jacket though, spawning a raft of dressing up in the process, it's hard to be too critical.
Throw in some… interesting… use of motion controls, which saw you vigorously shake the wiimote back and forth to keep your katana charged, and you've got yourself a unique experience which hasn't been touched since, even in its misguided sequel. Hopefully when he returns (again), Travis will bring us something new and keep this more "casual" take on the genre alive.
Be sure to let us know your favourite hack and slash game.
THQ's ARPG, Darksiders Genesis, launches on consoles this week, ditching the classic hack and slash gameplay for the first time in the series. This got us thinking about other franchises we'd like to get a genre-swapping spin-off.
A match made in heaven.
Sam | Cuphead
Cuphead is absolutely superb, don’t get me wrong, but its three comprising elements are all too disparate.
Side-scrolling levels are underbaked, having been shoehorned in based on player feedback instead of being planned from the start. Boss battles are incredible, but could be even more so with a preceding level to set the scene both thematically and mechanically. The world map connecting these stages is packed with interesting characters and hidden secrets, whereas in most other games it’d just be an elaborate menu.
Imagine instead that this hodgepodge was married into a more cohesive metroidvania. No longer a mixed bag of elements, Cuphead’s gameplay would flow just as beautifully as its hand-drawn animations. Ori and the Blind Forest, alongside upcoming sequel Ori and the Will of the Wisps, would be given a run for their money as champions of the artisan 2D metroidvania.
The true beauty of it is that not much would need to change, in theory. All of the structural building blocks are there, as too are the suite of acquirable weapons and abilities. In addition to serving their existing combat benefits, they’d now simply need to be utilised in solving puzzles and opening up new areas as well.
Has Sam correctly predicted a change of pace for Cuphead 2?
Liam | Halo: Reach
Halo: Reach is pretty much a perfect game, but I can’t help but think that Bungie’s best would also work ridiculously well as side-scrolling shoot-‘em-up.
The Covenant, made up of Grunts, Jackals, Elites and Brutes, are perfect cannon fodder for the genre, and you’ve got a great selection of ready-made characters in the form of Noble team, with enough numbers and skill-sets (Emile for close quarters, Kat as engineer, Jorge as a heavy, Jun ranged etc.) to cater for six-player co-op sessions.
Most of the campaign’s levels would also translate rather well to the 2.5D setting, whether it’s battling through space in a Longsword interceptor, hopping between skyscrapers with a jetpack and some AI ODST’s for company, or tearing through the desert on a Mongoose.
You could even throw in some decent boss battles in the form of Covenant cruisers (for the space parts) Hunter pairs, or maybe even some of those weird giant troll things that briefly make an appearance in the mission Nightfall.
Basically, it’s perfect, and I’m surprised it hasn’t been made before. Halo: Spartan Assault comes close, but it doesn’t really count because it’s a twin-stick at heart and all the action takes place in a slightly different perspective.
There's precedent for an all-together different Halo.
James | Pokémon
While Pokémon is one of the best known entertainment franchises around the world, it's clear a change is needed. While many, myself included, enjoy the lighter-touch approach Pokémon Go presents, there's a lot more that could be done with the franchise.
There have been various spin-offs already, but what I don't think we've had so far is a side-scrolling beat-em-up, something similar to the likes of Streets of Rage or even something more 3D like Sonic Adventure, but with more battling and less platforming.
We've come close before with the fisticuffs of Pokkén Tournament and Super Smash Bros. or the roaming antics of the free-to-play Pokémon Quest, but with a world so ripe for exploration, there's a lot of potential here.
Imagine a few RPG elements to levelling up your character to provide a more active take on the EV character attributes system, letting you double-down on speed and see the benefit in combat.
Tag-teaming a couple of characters would be good, or perhaps something more like Dragon Age Inquisition's party-based combat system, switching up skills and types for the best match-ups for enemies.
Getting the balance right would be tricky, not to mention narrowing down which 'mon to make playable, but inspiration from the anime alone is enough to give some sense of the spectacle and excitement to going more hands (or paws) on.
Take note, Nintendo.
Which franchises would you change for the better?
Zombie Army 4 released on Tuesday, making it the second game in the series following Zombie Army Trilogy. Whilst this is certainly odd, Rebellion aren't the only offenders who could use a little help when it comes to naming sequels. We've come up with a few of the worst offenders.
This is currently the most modern of the warfares.
When you think about it, Halo Infinite is an odd name to give to the sixth mainline entry in an ongoing series of games. I mean, where do you go from there? Infinite 2? Infinity and beyond? But, looking back on the series, it’s not entirely out of place.
The very first game, Halo: Combat Evolved, had a seemingly unnecessary subtitle that was ditched for the numbered sequels that followed, but the practice was brought back, somewhat confusingly, for the fifth entry, Halo 5: Guardians.
Then there’s spin-off titles such a Halo 3: ODST, which isn’t Halo 3 DLC, as you might expect, but an entirely self-contained game set before the events of Halo 3 and during/just after the culmination of Halo 2.
Halo Reach, my personal pick of the decade, I’ll allow, because the prequel is indeed a Halo game set on a planet called Reach, and it makes more sense than calling it Halo -1.
Halo veterans (that’s people who have played a lot of Halo games, not another numberless sequel) might be fine with all this, but if you’re approaching the series for the first time, you’d be forgiven for not knowing where to start. But then again, it is the flagship franchise of Microsoft, who know a thing or two about confusingly titled products.
Halo Veterans does have a nice ring to it.
I’m flipping the topic on its head by singling out a bizarre title with a more sensibly-named sequel on the way.
When I saw that a plucky little game called Remothered: Tormented Fathers was getting rave reviews, as a lifelong fan of survival horror, I had to give it a try. Stepping into the protagonistic stilettos of a blatant Jodie Foster bootleg, I anticipated uncovering the origin of such a mysterious title. Instead, I spent a frustrating few hours being left almost none the wiser.
Made up mystery verb “remothered” is altogether too perplexing to stick at the beginning of your title and then not address. I thought about its potential meaning a lot. Is a child without parents remothered upon adoption, having initially been orphaned? Are you remothered when you marry and gain a mother-in-law? I thought about how these kinds of things could apply to the game and came up with some solid headcanon, which would, unfortunately, spoil the game’s main twist twist if shared here.
Later I learned from the developers’ own “What does ‘Remothered’ mean?” article that it’s a combination of thematically relevant words. It’s disappointing that there’s no more concrete definition, but still, I can appreciate the ballsy (if also slightly baffling) inclusion.
There’s a sequel on the way called Remothered: Broken Porcelain, which allegedly just pipped Remothered: Titillated Grandfathers to the post.
That is an uncanny likeness.
The Kingdom Hearts and Final Fantasy series fought long and hard for my entry and ultimately I've decided they are both as egregious as each other.
On the one hand Final Fantasy has a legacy of 15 main titles, with only XIII spawning direct sequels, while Kingdom Hearts reached the rather paltry third installment last year – of course that neglects to mention the multiple games that released between two and three.
In fact, there are 13 Kingdom Hearts games before you even think about remakes or remasters, as well as collections on top of that, leading to titles like the daunting Kingdom Hearts HD II.8 Final Chapter Prologue.
For Final Fantasy, you first have to get over that the first game isn't going to live up to its name and be "final" at all, as this series has been going strong since 1987.
Then you've got XIV, which was released, then shut down and re-released as a different game, with a different subtitle (A Realm Reborn) a year later. Even ignoring VR fun times for XV, there's X-2, VII: Snowboarding and Final Fantasy Tactics, which gave way to a series of its own.
In all, both franchises make their games less accessible to some players as a result of this sea of names, which is one reason why I've never been able to bring myself to jump in.
Will there ever be a "final" fantasy?
Which confusingly titled sequels would you like to see renamed?
Final Fantasy VII and Marvel's Avengers had their release dates pushed back recently and CD Projekt Red announced that Cyberpunk 2077 would suffer the same fate. It's a common occurrence in the gaming industry but is it always a good thing?
And now we're disappointed all over again.
With crunch (and not "grease", as it turns out) being the word in gaming at the moment, you'd struggle to find someone who thinks it is, as a concept, a good thing.
Delays though, have more of a direct impact on the customer, the fan, the gamer. People are impatient when games like Cyberpunk 2077, until recently, are on the horizon.
For me, the delay for DOOM Eternal killed the momentum and urgency I felt to glory kill my way through the 2016 game at long last – something I'm only just getting back to.
At the same time, there's a huge backlog of games I already need to spend more time with, a pain anyone with Microsoft's Game Pass will share, so really I should be happy that the first half of 2020 is looking quiet, right?
The end result following a delay can be good or bad, but rushing a game out will almost always disappoint, or at least not reach its full potential until much later. Of course, it still doesn't make waiting for something you are dying to play any easier.
We'll wait patiently for Cyberpunk 2077 but only because we have no choice.
I always like to celebrate delays. Rushing a game to market never pays off in the long term, be that for the consumer or the companies and investors behind it. There are short term gains to be made, absolutely, but damaging your brand with a lacklustre release will never pay dividends further down the line.
In addition to getting a better game and a more likely sequel, the people that develop your favourite games can often avoid having to work crippling hours. It’s another win-win situation whereby crunch is cut back and, in the process, developer productivity and creativity should increase proportionally to their quality of life.
My last point is a tad more selfish, though most can probably relate. With an overflowing backlog, any period of time free from major new releases presents an enticing opportunity to trim it back a little. I’m absolutely loving the fact that DOOM Eternal is the first must-have game for me this year; that liberates most of the first quarter to kick back and catch up on a few of the great games I’ve missed.
We're looking forward to DOOM Eternal, if you can't tell.
Let us know your thoughts on delays.
Last year we tried our hands at divining the future and promised we'd check back in to see how accurate we were. One year later, here we are with a couple of successes under our collective belts and some new predictions.
A pretty paperweight, but still useless.
Last year I predicted there’d be a new Switch, and whilst it wasn’t the beefed up super console I said it would be, I was technically correct, even if the biggest draw of the ‘new’ Switch was just slightly better battery life.
In fact, I think my prediction may have simply been a case of jumping the gun. Nintendo have already shown a willingness to mess with the Switch’s key fundamentals by introducing the handheld-only Lite version, so why not a TV-only 'Pro' edition as well?
This machine (which would have a winter 2020 release date) would be more like a traditional console, sitting under your TV and coming bundled with a Pro Controller and 1TB of internal storage.
It will play games (except handheld only titles such as Severed) at higher resolutions and framerates and, whilst it wouldn’t compete directly with the raw power of the Xbox Series X or PlayStation 5, it’s lower price point would draw in the pixel counters and doubters who previously scoffed at the OG Switch’s limited capabilities.
To show off the new machine’s prowess and really muddy the waters, it’ll release alongside a Switch edition of Red Dead Redemption 2, which will be exclusive to the 'Pro' platform.
Will Liam's dream of an all-powerful Switch be realised?
The sales for the next generation of consoles won't be as significant as the launches of the Xbox One and PS4.
Not only do many gamers not have the 4K 60 inch flat screens to make the most of the new technology, but the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X have proved the appetite for ultra HD isn't the differentiating factor – games are.
Microsoft made a big song and dance about buying up lots of studios last year, including Double Fine and Ninja Theory, but I would rather see a few delays than any of those developers be pushed to get something out for the coveted Christmas launch season.
Sony too has games in the oven, but more to shout about in 2020, in particular The Last of Us Part 2, which remains one of its most anticipated titles. The question is, will it really gain anything from a next gen upgrade?
PlayStation's studios in particular have had great success in getting exclusives out the door already, and so I predict that the E3 period - when Sony are again due to throw their own party rather than lining up with the class - will see fewer games than last year and some technology showboating from platform holders.
The launch line-up will be closer to the one which rang in the Pro and One X variants than when this generation began, and there's going to be a lot of disappointed people out there.
What are the odds on The Last of Us Part 2 being a cross-gen title?
On a lazy Sunday afternoon like any other, Gears of War director Cliff Bleszinski sits at home alongside his wife and beloved Lamborghini. Whilst hopping between channels on their full cable package, inspiration for a new game strikes when he discovers an original 2011 film called The Three Musketeers.
Bleszinski quickly fashions a plan to establish a new indie studio and develop a game called Musketeers of Yore. Built around the musclebound bonds of brotherhood, this groundbreaking new game features the leading trio of Marquise, D’om and Steam Locomotive.
Launching in early access the following Wednesday, it’ll inexplicably fail to gain traction. Seemingly, even hardcore gamers just can’t handle something so fresh, innovative and deeply considered. Cliffy will be forced to close up shop and re-retire, toughing out life thereafter with the Lamborghini and wife that he has.
… In all seriousness, I’ve enjoyed most of Bleszinski’s work and he once retweeted me which earns him extra brownie points. Even then though, half-baked battle royale title, Radical Heights, was such an enormous misstep that I can’t help thinking a potential return to satisfy his “need to create” with “maybe a game” in 2020 isn’t the best idea.
It's certainly no Gears of War.
Share your 2020 predictions with us and check back next year to see how we all did.
2020 is only a couple of weeks away and this decade will soon be behind us. We've already discussed our favourite games of 2019 but now we turn our attention to the greatest games of the last 10 years.
One could almost regret killing Dutch, all those years ago in the future.
Sam | SUPERHOT and SUPERHOT VR
I suggested this topic a few weeks ago and despite leaving ample time to mull it over, the magnitude of the task only just hit home. Choosing my 2019 Game of the Year was arduous enough, so to open consideration up to nine more years’ worth of games is more than a little bit daunting.
God of War (2018), Batman: Arkham City, Dark Souls, INSIDE… the possibilities are near endless, but only one title crops up on my shortlist twice. Faced with chronic indecision, that was the deciding factor.
SUPERHOT and SUPERHOT VR are basically the same game despite their obvious control and display differences; declaring them joint winners isn’t cheating, but similar to appointing the likes of Pokémon Sword and Shield. Both centre around the simple concept that time only moves when you do, allowing for some impossibly spectacular fight scenes to be choreographed.
Gameplay is both demanding and empowering, yet at the same time slow and considered in a puzzle-like fashion. Whether you’re playing with a conventional controller on a 2D screen or motion controllers in the 3D realm of VR, its beautifully streamlined mechanics translate oh-so fluently.
There’s definitely an engaging story in there, but the ingenious gameplay is really what does it for me. SUPERHOT and SUPERHOT VR are games I already own and have played countless times, yet willingly rebuy and revisit as and when they’re made available on new platforms.
There's a lot more to SUPERHOT than just shooting Red Dudes.
Liam | Halo: Reach
Bungie’s swansong before moving onto Destiny, Halo: Reach felt like the end of an era, and though 343 Industries have since taken up the mantle of responsibility, the series has never quite hit the same heights as the 2010 masterpiece.
The campaign features a decent mix of large, sandbox style battlefields and claustrophobic close quarters action, and, even though its set before the original trilogy, manages to introduce some new weaponry to the already iconic roster, such as the needler rifle and DMR. It even revamps the look of Jackals and Grunts, and once again brings tough-as-nails Elites to the fore as your main adversary.
“New” abilities such as a limited sprint, something that had never been seen in a Halo game before, gave movement a much needed revamp without impacting on the series’ classic feel, and ditching the Master Chief in favour of a new recruit gave players a blank canvas with which they could make their own through armour customisation.
Add to that one of the best stories told in gaming (no spoilers here, just go and enjoy it if you haven’t yet!) and you’ve got not only the best game of the decade, but arguably one of the greatest games full stop.
The Master Chief Collection is finally complete.
James | GTA Online
It's funny when a game you enjoy is only half of the whole product, but that's been my experience with Grand Theft Auto V. Despite buying it twice, on both Xbox 360 and Xbox One, I have still not played beyond the mandatory tutorial section of the main game, instead I've spent my time in the whacky online sandbox of GTA Online.
Despite a rocky start, and I mean very rocky – with constant connection and stability issues for the first few weeks, let alone days – the game paved the way for Fortnite and others after it in serving up a seemingly endless stream of free updates, as an incentive for players to fork out more real world cash.
Heists alone were an update which the community waited years for, but when it did it reinvigorated the game, giving players a more structured, high-stakes mission that hadn't been experienced before outside the campaign, demanding coordination and teamwork to get the biggest score, in the form of GTA fun bucks to spend on fast cars, planes or even tanks.
The world Rockstar managed to create is the real star, and the reason the game works at all. I still might not have the city map memorised, though plenty of more dedicated players do, but many of the locations are iconic in their own right – even beyond the real locations some of them ape.
It's a fantastically crafted world that no sane person would want to live in.
Let us know your favourite game of the last 10 years.