The sign at the entrance to PAX Australia has always said two simple words: “Welcome Home.”
While, for the most part, PAX can be a solitary affair, that doesn’t stop there being some sort of camaraderie in that isolation – a shared loneliness as it were. Sure, there are heaps of groups and likeminded gamers using the opportunity to get together for some face-to-face Dungeons and Dragons, or spending the time simply hanging out and playing some card games, but there’s also quite a few people ‘going stag’ and balancing their need to just chill out and enjoy gaming alongside their innate hatred of … well, people.
2019 was an absolutely crackin’ affair … but because of time, inclination and just general can’t be botheredness, I’m not going to write a post on it.
Instead – make the effort to book a ticket for PAX 2020. You won’t regret it.
But, nope. I’m still enjoying it – and Kotaku is wrong.
At first glance, reaching Level 6 probably isn’t quite at the top of the enlightenment period to be able to safely dismiss Kotaku’s rather short-sighted take on the game, but there’s quite a bit of work that goes into getting to this level. I don’t doubt that the gloss of many casual gamers has started to wear off for Gears POP!, and so the competition I’m left with are either the true believers, or the late-to-the-party types, but having understood how many games and how many win-losses it takes to get to that stage means that there is a not-insignificant amount of respect for anyone competing at what I’d consider this ‘mid-tier’ level.
In fact, I think it’s fair to say that I am regularly loosing quite a few games – it’s about a 50-50 split, but the shine hasn’t quite worn off as quick like it has with Hearthstone. Perhaps it’s because I still get the drip-feed of delicious Xbox achievements, or perhaps I’m still just simply enjoying the game. In either case – from either a philosophical or a business perspective – I’m still playing it, and that means something.
I’ll be interested to see if other first party studios lean into some mobile development for Microsoft, or whether xCloud will pickup the mobile audience – but in any case, it’s definitely not a flop for me.
In the last 48 hours, Microsoft announced two things which tickled my fancy. The first is updates to Microsoft Office, which – as rumoured – is likely to be the implementation of Dark Mode across all of its Office products – which is great for a heavy iOS user like me. The other is that they will be holding a hardware event in New York at the start of October, again – another rumour – likely to bring with it a dual-screen Surface Pro.
As part of some comments on some news article (I have a few Microsoft-specific blogs on rotation, including MSPoweruser and On MSFT), I mentioned that I would absolutely be interested in upgrading from a Mac to a Surface if they introduced USB-C in as standard (like they have with the iPad Pro, and the MacBook). I think we’ve reached an age now where pushing ahead with the best in technology, like the USB-C, should be the norm. It’s no longer ‘innovative’, it’s standard. If I’m buying the latest, greatest product, then I want the latest, greatest offering.
But no, that’s not what the internet picked up on, did they?
Instead, and I’m paraphrasing, the response went along the lines of: well, if you like Windows so much, you should have abandoned Apple long-ago.
Now, make no mistake about it – I love my Apple products. I am yet to find a single piece of Apple hardware that hasn’t been able to withstand everything I throw at it – up-to-and-including my three kids. Consider also, that most products I use from Microsoft are now available on iOS, then it’s largely only gaming and a few specific pieces of software (like Visio) that require me to either dual-boot into Windows, or use another computer for. But that being said, I don’t hate using my Windows computers when I do have to use them either. I think Windows 10 is as close to the perfect version of Windows as I’ve seen since they launched Windows 95, and now with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, I’ve found myself using my Windows PC’s more-and-more. Couple that with the fact that most of my services are web-based, then it really doesn’t matter what hardware I’m on most of the time.
Right now, I’m writing this on my Surface 2, with my MacBook beside me showing my Google calendar for the week on Microsoft Edge Dev while notifications go off on my Apple iPhone.
All that’s missing is a bit of a Ubuntu on my desk and I’d have the whole family together.
So, like all of these other fringe arguments, my point remains the same – why is this a zero-sum issue? Why can’t I like iOS and MacOS and Windows and Linux equally and at the same time? Why and how does my decision to like one-or-more ‘other’ products lessen your enjoyment? Sure, there is enough marketing out there that will make you feel like your choice is the superior one (Remember: “Hi, I’m a Mac.” “And I’m a PC.”), but surely there is enough education out there now to recognise fluff versus feelings and preference.
Back when Xbox One launched under Don Mattrick, there were very real issues when it came to console choice. There was a clear divide about why Xbox sucked and PlayStation was better, and Microsoft adapted their product based on those decisions. These days, the products are like-for-like, and silly historical quibbles belong in the past. Right now, Windows and Mac are in the same position: like-for-like.
You don’t need to be a Mac or a PC person – you can be a little bit of both.
And tell the internet to keep their opinions to themselves.
It might sound silly, but I’ve been waiting for the industry to catch-up to this point for so long. I have looked at the Mike Ybarra Tweet many times over the past few years in which he prophesied a world where you would be able to play your same Destiny characters across any platform and take your progress with you, and now – that day has arrived.
While much of the narrative in the industry has been around cross-play for the past few years, I’ve always had my heart set more on the ability to cross-save. I knew that Microsoft had made incredible in-roads in this capability, part of the sales pitch that they use for using Azure, but regardless of any anticipated marketing kick – it was the functionality that most appealed to me.
The reason is simple: I don’t want to play with other people, I just want a choice about where I play.
Sure, Destiny is a game which thrives on social interaction – but other than one time when I managed to get a friend online, and through the good grace of an Xbox LFG – not to mention a few drop ins and drop outs – I managed to finish a raid – OTHER than that … I like to play it solo. If I play in a fireteam, it’s because it’s been randomly assigned to me, not because I have two or three good mates that I like to regularly catch up with each week and play. No, it’s the simple fact that I’m a busy man, and sometimes I only have twenty minutes to play, other times I can settle in for a long afternoon and smash out six missions in a row. There are a lot of variables at work there – whether the kids are in bed, whether my wife wants to watch something on the TV, whether there’s housework to do, whether my in-laws are staying, etc. And when that’s the case, I want to be able to pivot to a different platform, and try and play there – in my case, the PC.
Do you know what I don’t want to have to do? Start things all over again.
So, yes, I am red-hot-keen for cross-save, and I can’t wait to get into Destiny 2 Shadowkeep a little more on PC. It is, undoubtedly, a superior way to play the game, but I have built a healthy little legacy with my Guardians on my Xbox, and so I want to be able to maintain that going forward.
If they can sustain the cross-save capability for Destiny 3, I’ll be a happy man.
Hitman 2 • Completed “Golden Handshake” • 20G • 0.67% of gamers unlocked this
Those who know me, know that I love the Hitman rebooted series – it was by far-and-away my Game of the Year for 2016, and the sequel was pipped-at-the-post for 2018 only by the exceptional masterpiece that was God of War.
What GoW doesn’t do, however, is keep up with a healthy drip-feed of content and love that IOI (which I now chuckle about since I started watching Ready Player One) have given the game ever since they wrestled control of it from Square Enix.
I have to say – if getting out from a big publisher can do this for Hitman 2, I have exceptionally high hopes to see what Destiny 2 can do once free from Activision.
But I digress. Today I want to talk about one of the newer missions in H2, set in a New York Bank. It’s tight, controlled, and offers up a ‘Hitman-lite’ experience when compared to the main game(s). But I have to say, as additional content, I am more than happy for this level of polish. Sure, it doesn’t have the sprawling environment of Sapienza, or the NPC-rich markets of Marrakech, but what it has is story. It has enough beats for 47 to make this feel quintessentially Hitman, and – above all else – it’s fun.
Without much effort, I was able to get through two of the main story angles, and with a bit of blind luck and random button-presses, I managed to clear a few more milestones as well. The mission itself asks you to kill the main bank boss and steal some data from either the safe or off three other bosses in the bank – and while my plan going in was to aim for the safe, as it turned out, I stumbled into those three executives without too much trouble – and so, I killed them, took their hard drives, and then put a bullet in the front of the bank boss lady’s head.
Just another day in paradise.
Which, ironically, is where Lucas Grey tells 47 that they are headed to next at the end of the level – right before the ominous TO BE CONTINUED splashed across the screen.
After XIII ended the game like that back in 2003, I’ve been a little bit scarred. At least give me a (The) Sopranos-style cut-to-black!
I suppose the difference here is, the fact overarching story told in cutscenes is very different than that told through either in-mission voiceover or through emerging gameplay. Hitman is a game where you can dive into a world and kill a target without needing to know all the nuts and bolts of their lives. XIII is an intensely narrative-driven action romp where context is essential.
Still, to be safe – just don’t do ‘to be continued’s’.
I’m curious to see what some of the other achievements are for this DLC but I’m more than pleased for a solid first effort from IOI. I can’t wait to see what else they come up when they inevitably (shudder) ‘continue’ the series.
A lot of people spend their lunch breaks doing different things. Some enjoy the company of a good book, others stare at the small glow of their phones while they read Buzzfeed or some click-bait-of-choice. Me? I like to play video games. I find with the combination of kids, more work responsibility, increasing civic involvement and the ravages of age, my free time is increasingly shortened.
Over the past year-and-a-bit, documenting my gaming life at Achievement a Day has offered perhaps no better example of how I juggle life and gaming. But the audience for that blog is niche, a sub-culture of gamers that enjoy achievement hunting. While being a ‘gamer’ has attracted a broader level of acceptance, particularly in younger demographics, there is still a lot of agitation, even within the gamer community, about identifying as a gamer. Yesterday’s Kotaku article about the culture at Riot Games, for example, focuses extensively on the culture of only employing ‘core gamers’ – something the article tries to contend that (Riot believes) women are incapable of.
Riot sounds like someone decided to literally bring Hell to Earth. Imagine a real human being demanding details about your favourite piece of MMO jewellery so you can prove you're a core gamer. I can't even fucking say core gamer without having a seizure.
So, if gamers can’t even play nicely among themselves, it shouldn’t come as any surprise that a middle-aged white executive from the Accounts team of South African origin (who speaks like he longs for a return to Apartheid) might have difficulty accepting that gaming is a perfectly acceptable hobby to partake in during some down-time in the middle-of-the-day.
The game itself was Trailer Park Boys: Greasy Money, which I used for yesterday’s Achievement a Day, and so its comical appearance probably makes it no worse than watching something like Family Guy or Rick and Morty on my lunchbreak. But when Mr. South African stood from his desk and caught a glimpse of his screen, it wasn’t his disapproving look that bothered me the most, but rather the immediate onset of guilt for playing a video game.
Let me be clear: I was playing a video game on my own computer, during my own lunch-break out of the line-of-sight of most people. While Trailer Park Boys could be arguably quite an offensive game to the average person, it’s only in reading the cartoon-bubble text where you will get the offense. At least, that’s certainly the case yesterday.
No, the guilt came purely and solely from the act of playing a video game – not the content itself, and I think that is worth discussing.
I am certain that there is some psychology behind gaming as a hobby in which it hasn’t received mainstream acceptance yet and so it becomes a closet activity which can only be enjoyed behind closed doors, in the confines of your own home.
It’s a crude analogy, but homosexuality has been like that for a long time – first it was out-and-out unacceptable, then it became something that could be tolerated by two consenting adults out of the public eye, through to today where it’s (typically) not given a second thought. (Well, perhaps that last point still remains a lofty goal – but it’s getting there.) In either event, gaming as an activity is still in the ‘toleration’ phase of development. Nobody outwardly berates you for being a gamer – you might get the odd sneer or sideways glance – but, at worst you’re considered to be a bit eccentric, or at worst, a socially-awkward nerd.
Neither of those labels particularly bother me – at times I feel I have a foot in both camps, but collectively, the act of playing a video game and being a ‘gamer’ should have no better or worse connotation than being a ‘reader’, and reading a book on my lunch-break.
Is there a solution? No. It’s a cultural trend that will have to die out like the dinosaurs – again, much like societal views on homosexuality or any other progressive stance. I don’t think there’ll ever be, or need to be, a ‘gamer pride’ celebration, but it will be a shift that takes time. It will take the conservative, close-minded relics to die out, or have their views so increasingly marginalized by the powerful voices of a progressive youth. There’s signs of hope – the growth of PAX, and this year’s introduction of the Melbourne Esports Open are both stepping stones towards a more mainstream acceptance of gaming and gamers.
Perhaps once that acceptance kicks in, then there’ll be a greater ability to relax and stand proud when playing a video game over lunch.
Right, Sony. The behemoth that is console gaming. Expectations for PlayStation are at an all-time high this year, which is a terrible place to be if you’re presenting at E3. I think there is a far better result from studios, publishers and platforms that work their communication around lowering expectations – resulting in either met expectations or pleasant surprise.
I think after Andrew MK, having Gustavo Santaolalla play a spot of banjo to lead us into The Last of Us 2 is much more my vibe. I never platinum’d TLOU1, but one of my proudest trophies is completing NG+ on Hardcore difficulty.
If you ever needed to show a bit of gameplay to get you excited about a game – then Naughty Dog absolutely delivered. Oh my God. For the entirety of this footage, I completely forgot about my overwhelming hatred of Sony and their inability to let me change my username. Hell, I’ll play this game on someone else’s account – it’s just downright gorgeous.
The intermission style panel discussion with Sid Shuman and Ryan Clements interviewing Shawn Layden was a strange change of beat, but I have to admit – it was nice seeing them in-the-flesh, rather than just a disembodied voice in my ear or car stereo once a week via the podcast.
This Sony presser is SO weird. I admire they are trying something different but all they're really doing is playing trailers, and the panel chat/dead air in-between is quite useless.
Importantly, Layden announced the introduction of a New Game Plus for God of War, which I didn’t realise I even wanted until he mentioned it – but now that he has, I am completely on-board.
I could take-or-leave any of the Call of Duty news, but I’ll absolutely take a bit of Black Ops for free with my PlayStation Plus.
And I’m still a PSVR virgin, so I’m just going to gloss over any news in that space.
One of the surprising titles from the conference was Ghosts of Tsushima, which looks like something that might struggle on my OG PS4, or it’s certainly going to cause it to sound like a jet engine taking off. I don’t think I’ve heard or read anything about this so I’m not sure if it was an announcement, or more meat-on-the-bones, but either way, I liked the look of it. Like? Maybe strongly like is a better phrase. You know … like ‘like-like’ but not ‘love-like’.
Destiny 2 Forsaken is still appealing to me, but I think that it’s been dissected enough over the past few weeks, particularly from the core Destiny sites, so I’m not going to be able to add much more – particularly when it was little more than a short teaser. I suggest you would learn much more through reading Bungie.net than holding out for info at the E3 press conference. Needless to say – they better not kill-off Cayde-6 though. Don’t you touch my Nathan Fillion, Bungie!
Control looked incredible. I even texted a friend to comment that Xbox had nothing that came close to this visually during their press conference, but it’s quite possible that I’ve just bought into the hype of the presser – if anything I think Quantum Break probably fits that criteria – but gameplay alone certainly held up as a work of art. It’s only after-the-fact that I realised that Remedy is the developer, which is exactly why it had the QB feel!
So I gotta ask was Quantum Break just a beta for Control?#E3#E32018
Resident Evil 2 … looks gorgeous … I don’t think I’ve ever actually played RE2 … If I cast my mind back, I’m not actually sure I’ve finished RE1 properly … but there is certainly enough aesthetic here to get me interested.
Trover Saves the Universe. What? Much like Seth McFarlane has turned every one of his creations into essentially ‘the same thing’, this felt very Rick and Morty – just with new characters. I don’t know if that’s a bad thing or not, I’ve only just really started getting into Rick and Morty (which I love), but I feel like you could grab yourself a cheap voice actor for a bit of variety and – if the material is good enough – it will hold up.
I can’t understand the deep-rooted love for Kingdom Hearts III but it was clearly enough to get coverage at both Xbox and Sony’s stage … so I guess this is now going to end up on my to-do list. What did appeal to me was Sony packaging them all together as part of the final package (though I assume that 1.5 and 2.5 are remasters).
Nioh 2 adds itself to the list-of-games-that-I-haven’t-played-the-first-one-of. The internet seems excited though, so it seems like I’ll be locked in a gaming room for the rest of the year to try and finish this off.
Not even touching Death Stranding. I wonder if I have to hand in my Sony fan card (which was already on its last legs – where was my username change, Sony?) if I admit to not really liking the vibe I get from Kojima’s latest foray?
And then, the title we’ve probably all been waiting for – Spider-Man. It’s so utterly, utterly disappointing that this isn’t coming to Xbox or PC, but business is business, and I think Sony have made a very sensible decision grabbing this one as an exclusive. If I ask my son who he likes more – Spider-Man or Batman – he comes back with a decisive Spider-Man, which nearly gets him disowned from the family every time, but I satisfy my rage by telling myself that Spider-Man is actually my favourite Marvel character and Batman my DC. It hasn’t helped the last few years in realising that the rights to Spider-Man were owned by Fox, but once again, I have become incredibly good at disassociation as I get older, so I will endure.
Let me just say, the gameplay for Spider-Man is A+. A PLUS. The city is beautiful, the combat is second-to-none and the library of characters looks to fill a comic-book lover’s wishlist. If I can find myself a limited edition Spider-Man PS4 Pro console, then there’s a not-insignificant chance that I’ll be throwing my money at whatever retailer is going to take it.
The post-conference chatter with Shuman and Clements essentially included a little more gameplay from Spidey, as well as the announcement of a new PSVR game from From Software.
Hate to say this, but rather underwhelmed with the Playstation conference. I loved seeing Last Of Us 2 and Ghost of Tsushima gameplay, but overall, it just didn't wow me like past years. #PlaystationE3
If you listened to the internet, you would think that the Sony conference was terrible. Sure, the approach to focussing on 5-6 big games and the inclusion of a panel was a bit ‘different’, but it was a good example of quality over quantity (compared with Xbox’s focus on showing 50 games). And when it comes to quality, Sony certainly delivered. I won’t say that the quality on-show was necessarily better or worse than Microsoft’s – I think there’s been strong positives to take away from most shows this weekend. But, and I apologise for the wax lyrical, but maybe at some point the discussion can turn from ‘who won?’ E3 to just being about the general love of gaming and the communities which form around it. For all my pessimism in life, I don’t really play PUBG, but I do enjoy its success. Kojima isn’t really my bag, but I love that others love him.
In the wise words of Rodney King: Can’t We All Just Get Along?
That's a wrap for the main #PlayStationE3 show (with more news to come!)
Congratulations to everyone at E3 2018, and I sincerely mean that. For every shooter, puzzler, platformer, strategy, collectable card game, platform, and engine that fills our gaming libraries with great content each-and-every day, thank you.
It’s a great time to be a gamer …
… even if we’re stuck with our twelve year old PlayStation usernames.