Casually perusing the Playstation store as I do every so often, I was shocked to see the words ‘Summer Sale’ appear. Did we not already have one a few weeks back? Probably not. Am I delusional? Probably.
Regardless, we’ve been graced by the Playstation Gods once again, as the Summer Sale is either just starting or returns for the second time this year!
Below are some of the greatest deals of the first week.
Far Cry 4 – If you have the desire to save money and hunt all sorts of animals in the Himalaya’s, look no further. Step into the shoes of Ajay Ghale and prepare to have your eyes repeatedly pecked out by birds. Yep, birds.
Apotheon – If you’ve ever had a desire to play a game that looks like ancient pottery art, you’re in the right place. Apotheon is a Metroidvania with a gorgeous art-style and some innovative combat. You can do worse.
Trine 2: Complete Story – If Lost Vikings and some fairy tales of old had a baby, it would be Trine 2, a gorgeous puzzle platformer from Frozenbyte definitely worth checking out.
Slender: The Arrival – Remember PewDiePie exaggerating the scare-factor of Slender? Remember him screaming incessantly into the microphone until you closed the tab and sought out psychiatric help? You can somewhat recreate that horrible memory by playing Slender. Good luck.
As an avid discount gamer, I get anxious for all of the new PlayStation flash sales Sony is dropping on a pretty regular basis. They cover a wide variety of genres and the sales are generally pretty great. That’s why from now on I will be covering each and every PlayStation flash sale until the end of our solar system when the sun inevitably explodes and swallows us whole.
On that gloomy note, don’t miss out on the great deals while you still have a planet to inhabit! Here is a rundown of some of the best choices.
Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions Evolved – Calling all Masochists. The wait for Dark Souls III will be a long one, so if you are missing being mad and smashing your controller into tiny pieces, this is your new best friend.
Final Horizon – Remember disappointing your parents with low grades that can be in part blamed on Kongregate’s excessive tower defense library? Relive the agony with this gem.
Gradius Collection – Do you think the PSP is the best handheld ever made? Do you want to prove to your friends that the PSP is indeed the best handheld ever made? Do you want to make the PSP a relevant handheld in 2015? Gradius is for you. Nothing screams ‘Best handheld’ like playing ported games from well over a decade ago.
Everybody’s Gone to The Rapture is a first-person adventure game, developed by The Chinese Room and published by Sony, that allows you to explore an open world that its narrative structure plays a major role in gameplay. Creative Director Dan Pinchbeck shares the info through the website’s blog.
He explains that voice actors sometimes add their own touch which would ultimately result in forcing a change in the script to the better.
“One of the most inspiring things about working with voice actors is they bring depth to the characters you didn’t know was there as a writer. It was amazing to be able to work with the actors for a week before recording to rehearse and do script re-writes.”
Dan focused on Everybody’s Gone to The Rapture’s open ended structure and that the game lets you have the freedom in finishing the game in one session or divide it upon “six parts of roughly an hour each.” so it would be like a TV mini-series.
“You can play Rapture in one sitting, or you can break it up into six parts of roughly an hour each. In that way, it’s like a TV mini-series. We were really inspired by that format, by shows like Bloodlines, Six Feet Under, or The Killing. Our aim for the acting was to produce something that could stand shoulder to shoulder with the very best TV drama.”
The game’s characters that meet you are always in the form of light, faceless, which makes it more interesting for the player since he has full freedom to explore their past and know their stories.
“Not being able to see the character’s faces is a really important part of Rapture. We want you to be able to bring these characters to life yourself. Part of the non-linear nature of the game is that you’re free to really get to know characters and follow their stories.”
Everybody’s Gone to The Rapture is going to release August 11 for the PS4.
Microsoft took everybody by surprise by revealing that the Xbox One will now offer backwards compatibility to Xbox 360’s games. Although this will be done title by title but Microsoft promises there will be a total of 100 games that support the new feature by the end of this year.
President of Sony’s worldwide studios, Shuhei Yoshida, was in an interview with Edge magazine’s latest issue and he discussed the matter and why Sony aren’t thinking about doing the same and that their main focus is “creating PS4 games.”. He also thinks that Microsoft’s goal of 100 games by end of the year might not happen.
“I was very surprised. It must have taken lots of effort for them to realise the backwards compatibility, because the Xbox 360 and Xbox One use very different kinds of architecture,” muses Shu. “And I’m very curious. They showed a very short list of titles that work, and doing software emulation means you have to work title by title. So I’m curious to see what kind of games will be included in those 100 games that they say will be compatible by the end of the year.”
He continued to comment on Sony’s PS Now service that lets you stream your PS3 games on your PS4 and play them normally. Although this can be considered as a backwards compatibility in a way but as Yoshida puts it “PS Now is a network service,”.
“We don’t have backwards compatibility with PS4. With PS Now you can play PS3 games on PS4, but the main purpose of PS Now is a network service,” he continues. “By removing the requirement of games running on the console itself we can bring PlayStation games to multiple devices, including non-PlayStation devices. We just announced an alliance with Samsung in the US so people who purchase Samsung TVs canplay PlayStation games on their TV. So that’s the main purpose, not to provide backwards compatibility.”
Yoshida’s own opinion is that remaking games, remasters, HD and stuff like that, is better than just offering backwards compatibility since it allows to improve the game in terms of performance and visuals.
“I totally understand people asking for it, and if it was easy, we’d have done that,” he adds “But our focus is creating PS4 games and adding new services. Remaking games on PS4 makes the games even better – with The Last Of Us, you can play at 60 frames per second, and the same goes for Dark Souls 2. Actually, I just finished Dark Souls 2 again on PS4.”
Tell us what you think of Yoshida’s latest statements and if you still want Sony to follow Microsoft’s steps and offer backwards compatibility.
Last week, the internet exploded with a rumor that a Nintendo Playstation console prototype that only had 200 produced and after the break up of the collaboration between Sony and Nintendo, the prototypes were supposed to be destroyed. Someone didn’t and a Reddit user have posted pics of the console.
Sony Computer Entertainment’s Shuhei Yoshida conducted an interview with Engadget and they showed them the article concerning the console and Yoshida laughed a bit and said.
“When I joined Ken Kutaragi’s team [in 1993], there was a system called ‘Play Station’ that had both Super Nintendo cartridge support and some disc game support. Actually, I played some games [on it] as well.”
“Somehow, I think it’s more fun to keep it kind of a mystery. And it’s a long time ago, so my memory… [laughs]” Yoshida said.
This Nintendo Playstation might have came true but it’s history is still full of things to discover and Yoshida seems to know some interesting info about the console.
The president of Sony Computer Entertainment Worldwide Studios, Shuhei Yoshida, conducted a recent interview with GI.biz (Via: PSU ) and have talked about multiple stuff such as Project Morpheus’ pricing, developer kits’ availability and if PlayStation will commission any video content for Morpheus.
Yoshida said that he had to turn down some E3 Project Morpheus’ submissions since they only had place for 20 games but he was happy by the overwhelming submissions and how easy the devs said it was to develop on.
“Yes, that’s how you see 20 games at E3. Actually we had to turn down some of the submissions for E3 so more than 20 submissions were already there. And more devs are working on games for TGS. The teams are having a very very easy time to transition from last year’s model to this year’s model as well as from Oculus to Morpheus. So because Oculus is available and the DK2s are available in abundance devs have been working on content for PC and for Oculus. Many, especially small teams, use middleware like Unity and Unreal and these work really, really well in terms of porting games from PC with Oculus to PS4 and Morpheus.”
“One dev said it took them two days to get the PC game running on Morpheus and other teams say similar things, a week to get it running on PS4.”
He also commented on why they haven’t revealed the price of Project Morpheus at launch as he says it’s “too early”.
We are talking about launching next year so typically we don’t talk about pricing one year ahead of time. I think we announced the price of PS4 at E3 the year of the launch so that’s five months before the launch. So it’s too early. It’s not like we are waiting for Oculus to announce their price. We still have work to do to know exactly the cost of goods and so on.
Yoshida was surprised by the presence of Phil Spencer and that Microsoft are doing the right thing which is “to work closely with the OS companies.”
[Phil] Spencer’s appearance at their conference was a surprise but Microsoft provide the OS, Windows, for HTC Vive and Oculus Rift so if you’re making headsets you really want to work closely with the OS companies.
We don’t have to do it because we make our own OS, but every millisecond counts, like John Carmack talks about, so it’s just natural that they work together closely. Microsoft publicly in the past was saying, like the PR line was, ‘we don’t know about VR’ but now they are positive so I think that’s good for everyone.
Sony’s Project Morpheus is expected to release in the first half of 2016.
The E3 week is now over, and as usual it came with a lot of new games, old games, fun games, less fun games, unexpected games and expected games. When nearing the end of the week, one thing we have learned to count on, is that almost all sites covering E3 will discuss who “won” E3. And this year marks the year where we have had the most press conferences before the actual expo ever. Aside from the usual big three that are Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo, we have also seen the now mandatory EA and Ubisoft conferences. But also going full throttle this years was Bethesda, Square Enix and one completely dedicated to PC gaming.
The press conferences this year came and went like always. They were held in great theaters hosting seats for a couple hundreds of reporters all eager to first break the news that where soon to be unrevealed. With the exception of the PC gaming conference which was more like a talkshow then anything, a show which lasted almost 2,5 hours, and that was not a good thing. All of them streamed all over the world to a huge number of players eagerly waiting for something new or a reveal of their favorite game, and like always, some people where very happy and some will probably not watch it again next year. But let us return to the question at hand, the big questions everyone seems to have an opinion about now, ironically even me: Which company won the E3 press conferences? and which game won on the show floor?
Talking about winners and even loser like most people tend to do when discussing E3, seems like the wrong thing to do here. Because, can someone really win at a press conference? And can someone lose after showing part of\ or the whole portfolio of games? Of course not, it is a very absurd thought. If we were talking about winners and losers, that discussion would instead focus on how well the company sell those games promoted, and most of them are not showing up for a long time, so everything can happened. Even if we strictly view the economic side, and how well a game sells compared to how much money has poured into the project, it still would not really tell us if someone won or lost. Only that the market was focusing on this and that.
We could instead focus on what presentation we thought was best and liked the most, in the most subjective way, which of course could be a good reading or completely not agreeable with our own thoughts. Or we could discuss which game might be the biggest winner in the long run in term of player-base or how well it sells, but that stuff should not matter at all to us gamers. They will of course play a vital role for the companies behind them, but a good game is a good game no matter what, and that thought is extremely subjective. Still, there is no winner or loser to be found at E3. There are only some games which some people like better and some games which other people like better. And by saying that a company won the press conference, or that a game won on the floor, is like saying the other games lost. But we all know that a game does not lose, it only appears to a smaller audience then anticipated in the end.
The most common answer to these questions on the E3 winners I have seen floating around internet, is that we the gamers are the true winners. And while that might be true, and one of the biggest stereotypical clichés to say. I still cannot honestly say that it is we the gamers who won the E3 shows, because we where sadly not invited. We were given a small amount of teasers and in-game trailers compared to all the business talk in-between that only a few people actually care about. As for the game who won on the show floor, gamers didn’t win anything there at all. Because we have seen very little about what was actually shown on the floor, and with time we will, but we will surely not get our hands on it. Which of course is only natural, since it is the journalists job to provide us with that information at this stage, but we still did not win E3 only because a few games was shown to us.
Talking about winners and losers at a semi-public event only made to sell the ideas of products to the consumer via other people in the business, such as the journalists, but also through retailers and other marketing partners, is a completely ludicrous idea. I as many others, watched the press conferences through streaming services and watching a few of the in-game movies taken from the show floor. I have enjoyed some of it, and I did not enjoy some of it. But neither game nor company won E3 for me, they all succeed I doing what they intended to do; showing us games, which in the end is a good thing for a gamer. So let us stop talking about the “winners and losers” of E3, and instead only focus on the games, follow the games you found interesting at E3 here at VgamerZ, and enjoy playing them when they arrive. But this is my opinion in the matter, and I would love to hear your thoughts on the matter, so please, write to your heart’s content about who won or lost this year E3, or if it is even possible at wining there.
Oh, Crash. In your early nineties glory days, you were the unofficial mascot of the PlayStation. Groupies, shopping centre openings, invitations to spangly celebrity cocktail parties… the bandicoot had it made.
Alas, though, he was never destined to become quite the icon Mario, Sonic and their ilk would. Developer changes and delays between games hit him hard, but not before some truly stellar platformers arrived. The best of all, in my view, would have to be Crash Bandicoot: Warped. Let’s take a look.
The third installment of the main series hit PS1 in 1998. It tells a familiar story, of the struggle between weird genetically modified Australian marsupial and demented megalomaniac scientist (well, that’s a familiar story in the Crash series, anyway). This time, Doctor Neo Cortex is aided by the villainous Uka Uka, an evil demon-thing that resembles a witchdoctor mask. The dastardly duo need to gather a set of mysterious crystals to achieve world domination, which are spread throughout time and space.
Fortunately (for them), Doctor N. Tropy has developed the Time-Twisting machine, which allows them to hop backwards and forwards at will and gather them. Fortunately (for everyone else) it also allows Crash to do the same, and thwart their fiendish schemes. And so begins 25 levels of toontastic 3d platforming goodtimes.
Fans of the little orange dude will know the deal here. There’s a central hub world (the time machine itself, in this instance), from which you access each ‘set’ of 5 levels. After nabbing the crystal from each, you’ll take on the boss before proceeding to the next area. There are enemies to spin attack or jump on, explosive booby traps to avoid, those legendary Crash crates…
It all sounds quite conventional, but Warped has the best level variety of any platformer I’ve ever played. The time travelling idea for one, which sees stages set everywhere and anywhere from the Jurassic era to the distant future. More than that, though, there’s the vehicle stages. You’ll ride a World War One biplane and dogfight with your foes, race them on a motorbike, and barrel along the Great Wall of China on the back of a tiger cub. Is any of this madness in any other platformer? No, no it isn’t. Well, not all three at any rate.
Crash Bandicoot Warped is definitely an example of a safe sequel. Fans will feel right at home here, and there’s a distinct waft of more of the same about it all. Nevertheless, developer Naughty Dog aren’t resting on their laurels completely. Many of these vehicles are brand new for the game, and change the way you play entirely. As do the all-new special abilities, which you are awarded for beating each boss, Mega Man style. The rocket launcher that fires wumpa fruit is worth the price of admission alone.
Bloodborne patch 1.04 was being hinted at, I was ecstatic to see my best game of 2015 so far being given careful post-launch support. The game was was a masterpiece of design and atmosphere, but despite everything it got right, there were a few things that needed fixing.
I never would’ve expected however, that Bloodborne patch would not only fix some problems with the game but single-handedly sabotage the entire design philosophy of the series. It was shocking and disheartening, and I actually wondered if it was a practical joke.
It isn’t a practical joke, and I am having trouble even coming up with a cohesive explanation to why From Software would do such a thing to their own baby.
Bloodborne Patch | Summoning Is Sacred
I must admit that I am tempted to simply post this video and leave it at that, as it perfectly encapsulates one of the main problems of Bloodborne patch 1.04 – the ability for any player of any level to summon any player of any level.
If you have played Bloodborne or another Souls game, you’ll know that the games are based on what is essentially a glass floor of balance. They’re so carefully crafted that the way in which you take on foes and bosses is beautifully executed, offering some relief when you can gain a few levels, while always challenging you despite how good you become at the game.
This among many other things that I will discuss later is disregarded when you can simply have your high-leveled friend join your game with a maxed-out Ludwig’s Holy Blade and some spells to five-shot any boss you’ll encounter.
Furthermore, the fact that you can summon anyone so long as the boss isn’t killed means that you can literally have someone smack their way through the majority of the game with you, doing literally nothing but following on auto-pilot as they reign down the chaos.
While some might think that this only affects those who choose to utilize this feature, there is still an inherent problem with the very idea.
We’re In This Together
When I say this, I don’t just mean through jolly cooperation, I mean as a community at large. We all play the Souls games and Bloodborne for differing reasons, but we are all privileged enough to feel the intense satisfaction of overcoming our fears, weaknesses, and ignorance to defeat the game’s toughest challenges, and that is an idea I cherish.
When I’m struggling through a hard area, I can think to myself that there are many other people in the same situation as me. We’re all in this together and we’re all toughing it out to be granted the endless enjoyment of such a unique franchise.
Except that this all counts for nothing when the game is reduced to what I will call Casualborne. A game where you can steamroll every single hurdle through what is now the equivalent of a ghost writer.
Where is the satisfaction in summoning help in the form of an extremely high leveled player? Where is the sense of achievement you’d earn by completing a nefariously designed area? The truth is that if you utilize this feature, you will experience none of this and it’s a damned shame. It goes against the basic design philosophy of this series: overcome through patience and perseverance.
As someone who not only supports this series wholeheartedly, but also wishes to preserve the essence of what makes this series such a stand-out in an age of absolutely tepid triple A titles and pre-order culture, I cannot just watch it happen and accept it.
You should be proud that you are amongst a small group of gamers that enjoy such a masochistic and skill-demanding experience, and you should not let your precious memories of this franchise vanish into nothing but memories of having a friend do everything on your behalf.
We’ve Only Just Begun
I don’t want to give you the wrong impression that this only impacts the single-player experience, as this is also potentially catastrophic to the online experience, and that is where my true worry comes into play.
Bloodborne, like the games before it, has a unique online feature that allows a player to jump into the single-player world of an unsuspecting victim so that the invader may slaughter him and earn some precious echoes.
This mechanic is one that has been fully embraced by the community since Demon’s Souls, and it is a mainstay feature in this series. This Bloodborne patch ruins it too.
Picture this scenario if you will. You as an honest player spend dozens of hours enjoying Bloodborne and learning the mechanics. After a while, you decide that you want to go head to head with someone in the form of PVP, but when you ring your Sinister Resonant Bell and find yourself in the world of another, you come to a sad realisation… it’s been set up.
You join the world of a player your level, and as you go forth weapon in hand, you see that he has a friend (or three) that are not only incredibly high leveled but possess the advantage of having home field and preparation on their side. You quickly get ambushed in what can only be called a pre-planned ganking scenario, and you find that you are completely helpless to the overwhelming power of these foes.
That is exactly the scenario you will be seeing more and more of as this Bloodborne patch becomes more and more exploited by a community that thrives on ganking montages and yoloswaggin’ PVP videos.
I’d be foolish to think that this is the first time players have summoned friends to mess up unsuspecting invaders, but at least before we had fair-game in the form of level and item restrictions… mostly. This is made even worse when you consider how many exploitable bugs Bloodborne had that allowed any player who so chose, to immediately glitch their way to enormously high levels with unlimited currency.
It’s a big amoeba of small problems that form into one hideous entity that even Miyazaki himself couldn’t have drawn on paper.
Bloodborne Patch Of Pandemic Proportions
If you were under the impression that these kinds of scenarios would be reserved for only small groups of friends, you’d be sorely mistaken, as even those who hate this patch can still be directly involved in it. I’ll explain how with another hypothetical scenario.
You want to experience the world of cooperation and so you think to yourself “I’ll ring my Small Resonant Bell and help someone out on my favourite boss so that I can have a repeated viewing”. After waiting a brief moment, you find yourself pulled into a world that at first seems normal. When you reach the boss fog, however, you realize that you have a friendly summon who is so powerful that the boss music doesn’t even get to start before the creature is dead and you are on your way out.
You, who is a sucker for challenge and likes to experience the grind of slowly whittling away at a boss’s health until he finally collapses cannot enjoy this, because even you are thrust into the new-found community of boss cheesers. Something I don’t believe is far and few between, by the way, especially when you consider how Reddit has been behaving since the patch hit.
It hasn’t even been a single week and the Bloodborne subreddit already has threads and comments popping up with people asking for specifically high-leveled players to help on bosses.
There are even community-based passwords in place on Facebook, Reddit, and the Bloodborne Wiki that enable you to instantly summon the help of anyone who is also using the password in the community. It’s no longer about finding a summon of equal strength, but now just a waiting game until an obligatory tank comes in and slaughters everything for you.
The idea that we have entire communities set out to cheese a game that is meant to be legitimately overcome makes my blood boil, but I can’t really do much about it.
Bloodborne Patch | A Little Bird Told Me
Beyond everything I’ve talked about, what is perhaps the most discouraging thing of all is the response to this patch. It has been overwhelminglypositive from what I and some close friends have witnessed.
It seems that amongst the fans that I have encountered and several articles that have surfaced covering the details of the patch, most people welcome this change, claiming that it’s now a more social experience like they had hoped it’d be.
Since when was a single Souls game about social play? Do you not remember how you couldn’t use any form of party chat on Xbox 360 with the original Dark Souls? Do you not remember how before Dark Souls II’s horrific voice-chat, the only way to communicate in the game would be via gestures? Do you not remember the purposeful design of camaraderie through the conquering of bosses, not through direct interaction? Do you not remember the ‘prepare to die’ slogan the encapsulated the type of experience you’d be in for? Do you not remember how Hawkeye Gough had the only items that could even allow you to directly speak to a player but only by means of a few key phrases? All of this was done deliberately, and this patch again destroys the idea and the design.
The idea of Dark Souls and especially Bloodborne more than all is to be absorbed in a world and thrust into scenarios that would make anyone quiver in fear. You are meant to be scared, isolated, alone, confused, and lost. These emotions make it much more rewarding when you tackle a difficult stretch, and they would all be irrelevant if this were a directly social experience.
You aren’t thinking about the atmosphere or the labyrinthine design of the castle you’re in, if all you’re doing is teasing your friends while you casually swing your swords with your brains off, steam-rolling even the toughest of foes without blinking an eye.
It’s almost as if nobody wants to play a Souls-like Souls game any longer. It’s like they want the title of ‘I beat an extremely difficult game’ without actually having to put in any work, and that is discouraging, to say the least.
Here’s an interesting case study. In terms of singleplayer-only gaming, what can OP really mean?
In the early days of gaming, there were cheat codes-amundo. These button combinations would enable all kinds of funky effects, from big head modes to invulnerability and level selects. In a sense, of course, this ‘broke’ the game in question, allowing you to effortlessly waltz through the tricksiest sections with ease. Oftentimes, such things were frowned upon.
What mattered, in my view, was when and where you chose to use them. With a game you’ve already beaten umpteen times, why not? Nothing ups replay value like the chance to play through again while invincible, or with end-game weapons unlocked from the start.
In-game mechanics can have a similar effect. There’s no use of cheat codes per say, but you’re abusing the tools you’re given to break the game in a whole different way. Final Fantasy VIII is a great example of this.
As fans of the much-ballyhooed RPG series will know, each game handles character progression differently. Final Fantasy VII’s materia system and XIII’s crystarium, for instance, are two wildly disparate ways of handling characters’ stat growth and learning of abilities. Final Fantasy VIII utilized the junction system, and it’s a little nutty. Let’s check it out.
In this game, there was no armor to equip, only weapons. This is RPG blasphemy, of course, but armor was rendered obsolete by the much more customisable stats junctioning offered. Essentially, the menu allowed you to ‘equip’ a magic spell from your arsenal to a particular stat. The boost you’d get from this depended on the spell and how many uses of it you had (magic didn’t cost MP here, but was instead limited by the amount of ‘copies’ of the spell that character had stocked).
Each stat was better suited to certain magic, and this is where your team could quickly become overpowered. Junctioning powerful healing spells to your HP, for instance, paid dividends. The key here is that a lot of these spells could be acquired early on, leaving characters vastly overleveled for that point in the story.
But it’s a long slog to do so. In my most recent playthrough of Final Fantasy VIII, I decided to try out some real junctioning abuse. I also took the time to acquire some ultimate weapons on the first disk to boot. This was all kinds of a pain in the butt, requiring several hours of the card game Triple Triad (cards can be refined into items, which can in turn become a stock of powerful magic).
It added a whole new dimension to the game, being able to unleash powers and attacks that were flattening bosses in a single hit. OP? In a sense, sure. The first time playing, I’d never dream of doing so. I felt the same rush that school bullies probably feel as they flush the toilet with a nerdly little kid’s head in it. Or PHENOMENAL COSMIC POWER, as the genie from Aladdin put it.
Nevertheless, it takes a certain degree of expertise to abuse the system in this way. For newcomers, junctioning can be a head-scratching business. And even when you know what you’re doing, it’s so time consuming. I earned my stats and Squall’s spangly blue gunblade, there’s no doubt about that. Having worked for it, I can’t see this as too objectionable.