Xbox acquires Bethesda and exclusive rights to eight major franchises

Bethesda

Yes, you did read that right. In an industry defining move earlier today Microsoft announced it is acquiring ZeniMax Media and Bethesda Game Studios. This move sees eight major Bethesda game franchises fall under the ownership of Microsoft. Furthermore, they could all become Xbox exclusives depending on how the American technology giant approaches development.

The eight notable franchises Xbox has gained ownership of are DOOM, Dishonored, Fallout, PREY, The Elder Scrolls, The Evil Within, Starfield, and Wolfenstein. Many of these series have active games in development, with the biggest by far being The Elder Scrolls VI. It was teased a couple of years back, but we’ve seen no new information since then. It’ll be interesting to see if it ends up being an Xbox exclusive or not.

The acquisition of Bethesda

Elder Scrolls bethesdaMicrosoft’s acquisition of the popular American games publisher alongside ZeniMax is rumored to have cost $7.5 billion. To put that colossal number into context, that’s three times what it paid to acquire Minecraft developer Mojang.

In a post written by Bethesda PR vice president Pete Hines, the developer states this opportunity allows it to make “even better games going forward.” Also, Hines believes Microsoft can provide “access to resources that will make us a better publisher and developer.”

Given the rough patch Bethesda is going through, a change in direction was probably needed. The disaster that was and is Fallout 76 has been difficult to overcome for the developer, but this switch up of approach could help. Hopefully, with the backing and funding of Xbox Bethesda can get back to developing industry defining RPGs.

What do you think about this bold move by Microsoft? Are they justified in doing this or is the acquisition of Bethesda a bad move for industry competition? Let us know in the comments what you think and if this will pay off long-term.

How Scary Is… The Evil Within?

Evil

Oh yes indeed. This is the big one. Buckle up, guys and gals.

Prior to release, The Evil Within was hyped ‘til it could be hyped no more. This much ballyhooed return to survival horror’s roots was being helmed by Shinji Mikami, after all. In the world of dark hallways, befuddling puzzles and angry maniacs brandishing chainsaws at our faces, this guy reigns supreme.

This is the creator of Resident Evil, right here (not the crappy ones, the good ones), and you don’t argue with that kind of pedigree. The question is, does his first venture into the genre for some time deliver?

Well, it certainly punches you straight between the eyes from the start. Many reviewers have noted its numerous homages to Resident Evil 4, and the memorable opening is certainly one of those. Inside the first fifteen minutes, Mikami’s favourite trope, the chainsaw crazy, has been unleashed on you.

In the case of The Evil Within, he dangles you from meathooks in a kind of human larder, before engaging you in a deadly game of cat and mouse as you attempt to escape. Except here, the cat will slice your torso into pastrami with a big ol’ angry saw if he sees you. It all adds a whole new dimension to the word ‘deadly.’

Some players have deemed this section tedious, what with being unarmed and all. But for me, it’s a tense introduction to the game’s stealth mechanics and real statement of intent to boot. The frantic hobble through the whirly circular saw trap room, the desperate dash from the Sadist, being dumped into the creepy well of blood… most of this happens before the opening credits.

Um... it's not how it looks, officer.
Um… it’s not how it looks, officer.

This is the nature of The Evil Within’s horror. In your face, violent, gory, all kinds of creepy. It’s the Resident Evil 4 or Dead Space style ‘action horror/shooter,’ if that’s a thing that exists. In terms of the lion’s share of the gameplay, at least.

To that end, it throws just about every tired trope possible at us. The dodgy mansion that houses all kinds of questionable doings, the ‘undead’ enemies, the oft-predictable yet effective cheap jump scares. Mikami knows horror, but sadly he doesn’t know when to stop knowing horror.

This isn’t to say that the game doesn’t also dig a little deeper. Along the course of the convoluted story, psychological horror becomes more prominent. As you begin to piece together the whos, whats and whys, you realise that there’s something brilliantly creepy going on behind the scenes. Which I shan’t go into, for fear of the spoiler police.

As for its scaritude (which is also a thing), that’s as difficult to gauge as ever. It can be quite a panic-inducing game, dumping you in confined spaces with bosses that can insta-kill you and such. It has the foreboding atmosphere, the scare-rific locales, the scant supplies, every element it needs. It could be the start of a rather brilliant IP, but you’ll have to decide for yourself if it’s scary or not.

The VGamerZ Monster Files: The Sadist (The Evil Within)

Evil

The Evil Within hit stores this week, a survival horror title with a considerable pedigree. The game marks Shinji Mikami’s return to the genre, and the Hype Train expected a lot of Mr. Resident Evil’s new effort.

One thing we were certainly counting on is one of his hallmarks: the chainsaw-brandishing nutbag. Well, fear not, because he remembered to pack one. Let’s buckle up and meet The Sadist.

First, a little walk down head-lopping memory lane. Fans will remember Resident Evil 4‘s own ‘Chainsaw Guy’ (or Dr. Salvador if you prefer). This enemy appeared very early in the game, during a tense setpiece in the village. He was much more resilient than the standard Ganados, shrugging off bullets like the Terminator, and would insta-kill you if he got within range.

All of these fine attributes were shared with his female counterparts, the Bella Sisters, and The Evil Within’s Sadist is now part of that fine legacy of homicidal crazies.

He also appears very early in the game, as a way of introducing the player to the stealth mechanics in the most pants-fouling manner possible. Sebastian is still unarmed at this point, as he cruises through a deeply creepy hospital-y building. The Sadist is patroling the area, and you must desperately elude him. First, you’ll be forced to hide in a locker, Solid Snake style, before learning how to negotiate the environment without being detected.

"Wait, come back! I just want to be friends! Darn it, I came on too strong again. Is it the chainsaw? It's the chainsaw, isn't it?"
“Wait, come back! I just want to be friends! Darn it, I came on too strong again. Is it the chainsaw? It’s the chainsaw, isn’t it?”

The Evil Within utilises a stealthy trick or two of its own. There are wine bottles strewn about the areas (surprisingly many of them at that; your crazy mutant enemies must have a severe drink problem), which you can collect and throw. Whereupon, the lurking menaces will hurry off to investigate the noise.

These are tricks you’ll have to master quickly, as you’ll be thrown into the deep end in this one. Even in the opening chapter of the game, The Sadist does not take kindly to visitors. So un-kindly, in fact, that he’ll dash over to anybody he sees and send their heads bouncing along the floor before they can say ‘uh oh.’

In another homage to later Resident Evils, he’ll appear again later in the game. With Sebastian now tooled up with deathly death-sticks of his own, you’re able to turn the tables and kill him. Indeed, you must, as his pet saw is the key to a puzzle. All in all, this guy is the primary antagonist of the early game, and serves wonderfully at establishing the unique oppressive mood of The Evil Within.

Bonus points also for this guy’s design. He looks more intimidating and/or freaking hideous than Dr. Salvador ever did.

The Evil Within: Why the Game Will Be Really Scary

Evil

There’s been a lot of talking lately about the upcoming The Evil Within and the fact that it will actually fail as a horror game. Even our own Editor in Chief, Marta, wrote an article on why the game can’t scare anyone. But I beg to differ: The Evil Within will actually be a really scary game! Because there’s more to it than catches the eye when watching a trailer, a demo or reading about it.

Now, if you are a horror fanatic and live and breathe horror games and movies and books, you might already be immune to many of the jump scares that The Evil Within offers (but the same can be said about most of the other horror products available in the world). Otherwise, I think you will be scared. The horror is there. The tension is there. The narrow and dark hallways where you know anything bad is possible… they are all there. The Evil Within will scare you and haunt you like The Exorcism of Emily Rose or the classic Birds: not because of the monsters which, in some cases are rather hilarious (who still gets scared of “monsters” with boxes on their heads, chains wrapped around their bodies and… ta-dam! CHAINSAWS??? I mean, come on, I’d be scared NOT to see any of these in a horror anything, then I’d know that some twisted isht is going to happen!). The game won’t be scary because of the blood baths – they have never been scary anyway. And not because of the story itself.

So how will The Evil Within be scary?

I am judging the game, just like everybody else, based on the gameplay trailers and information that has been revealed so far, plus that gut feeling that any gamer with tens of years of experience gets every now and then. I might be terribly wrong, but I actually doubt that. Here’s how things go:

When I see a long, dark hallway and I know I am in a place infested with monsters, I am instantly afraid. When there’s a flickering light there and I have to take a turn, I am terrified. The (actually uninspired) music of the game turns into silence and the only thing I can hear is the sound of the heart beating: mine, not the character’s. We’re talking about atmospheric horror here and no matter how cliche are the long, dark hallways with flickering lights and jump scares awaiting around the corner, you will be scared. It’s human nature and no matter how many times you’ve taken virtual characters through the same path, you will be scared. You will feel the pressure, your brain will keep you alert, expecting the unexpected. You know that something will happen and you’re trying to prepare for that. It’s the exact reason why you’ll get a scare when it actually happens: you know it will, you just don’t know when. It’s always a surprise.

Are you afraid of the dark?
Are you afraid of the dark?

And The Evil Within is not only about long, dark hallways. It’s about sneaking and hiding, too, among other things: elements that can also have the potential to be really scary when you are already a couple of hours into the game and completely immersed within the story. It might not sound like this when you’re watching a trailer or when you’re reading about it, but when it actually happens and you are actually there, getting closer to the screen and holding your breath when you sneak behind a huge monster, hoping he won’t see you… well, now that’s when things actually change and what might seem like a not-so-scary feature becomes real horror.

Because, in the end, this is what the real horror games and movies have that separates them from the rest: the atmosphere, the pressure that you feel at all times, the constant fear that something unexpected and twisted might happen. Take the example of Slender Man: if you were to describe the game to somebody who never played it, that person would probably consider you crazy for consider it scary. But once you get into the game and start feeling the pressure and when eventually the Slender Man appears, then you really know that the game IS actually scary.

I believe that the same goes with The Evil Within. Trailers can’t scare you, because you’re not there. You are not controlling the character. You are not feeling the pressure. You are not IN the game. But once you do all these, you will be scared!

The Evil Within: 5 Reasons Why This Game Can’t Scare Anyone

There are numerous games that fail at the most diverse things, yet there aren’t as many failing at their own genre. The Evil Within seems to belong to this restricted group, where games seem to lose their initial essence in the wonders of content production. Labeled as survival-horror, The Evil Within should be delivering an enthusiastic next-gen experience capable of revolutionizing the genre. However, the recently launched trailer at PAX East indicates that more than failing at horror, this game doesn’t seem to scare anyone at all.

asd1. Detached Protagonist

One of the most incoherent features in The Evil Within is the fact that the main character, Sebastian Castellano, does not fear death. The protagonist goes through most of the story wondering if he’s dreaming or if he’s actually part of a living hell. Sebastian is normally detached of emotions and his facial expression is generally hollow and indifferent. Even when the most terrifying enemies approach, he doesn’t seem to have any danger perception. He is not concerned for his mortality, therefore how or why should players be worried about anything at all? The empathy is simply not there.

ew32. Surviving is Utterly Easy

Surviving is the core feature of this genre but in The Evil Within the treat level is rather tragic. Sebastian is able to defeat all kind of enemies with just his weaponry (guns, rifles, crossbows) and the worst part is that it only takes a few shoots to take down the supposedly horrifying creatures. How can there be any type of fear if dying is not a problem at all? Horror and safety just don’t go along and in this case, things are too simple and easy.

ew23. Old Fashioned “Scaring” Tricks

Old scaring tricks used to work marvelously back then but with time and experience players inevitably become tolerant to these same tricks. This happens because the human brain develops involuntary defense mechanisms that won’t allow the same techniques to trigger a similar amount of amusement and fear that it used to. Besides, the surprise element is completely gone. Delivering the same horror features over and over in different contexts does not generate the intended horror sensations. In fact, it can generate opposite feelings such as fun and boredom.

ew44. Repetitive Horror Techniques

In The Evil Within, the supposed scaring techniques are used and abused to exhaustion. The most common one is the out of nowhere monster spawning. It’s surely frightening at the first times, however after a while you’ll always have in mind that wild abominations can appear behind you, so whether they appear or not, it won’t surprise you anymore. Besides, in this game players can simply run away and close a door behind and they’ll be safe. Now, a horror game that allows this kind of maneuver can’t expect to scare anyone.

The Evil Within5. Enemies are Hardly Convincing

The last reason why this game can’t scare players lays on the aesthetics. The general environment visuals are quite gorgeous but when it comes to close range, more specifically characters and monsters, the panorama is very different. Monsters, in general, lack detail and quality, thus realism. The effects are not astonishing as well, which makes the whole in-doors environment a bit rough and hardly convincing.

The Evil Within: Survival Horror – Is That So?

The Evil Within received a huge update at PAX East this year and a new gameplay trailer has been unveiled. But the reception hasn’t been the best so far, mainly because the content labeled as survival-horror displays a shocking reality – The Evil Within clearly fails at horror. It’s not simply a question of psychological elements; the game itself lacks the mood, the graphics and the details to actually succeed at this vastly explored genre.

e2The Elements are There, The Mood is Not

After visualizing the new trailer, I found myself wondering if The Evil Within is actually a horror game. Why? Well, I dislike horror games because I get easily scared but in this case nothing was able to affect me in a horror intended way. Now, that’s a very worrisome sign. I know the core elements are there – the blood baths, the abominations, the dark-shady environments… but it just doesn’t feel right. I suppose because the mood has been forgotten. The elements might be there but if they’re not properly arranged, then the final product is not going to work as intended. Besides, we’re already in a new era of gaming, which means Tango Gameworks should be presenting something new and innovative rather than this old fashion horror that has decayed over-time.

asdApathy and Horror Just Don’t Go Along

Sadly, the only issue with The Evil Within doesn’t simply concern environmental elements. Characters, in general, display increased levels of apathy and they don’t seem to get scared at all. But it gets worse. The protagonist, Sebastian Castellano, is probably the most disconnected character in the whole game. After being knocked out in the middle of a crime scene, Sebastian wakes up in a world haunted by abominations. Furthermore, the protagonist loses his sense of reality, he just assumes he’s stuck in some kind of nightmare and he doesn’t seem too concerned about his mortality. Now, if the main character is not afraid to die, should players be scared about anything at all?

The Evil WithinSurvival is Previously Guaranteed

In the horror genre the main goal is to stay alive but in The Evil Within life seems to hold no meaning. Survival is not an objective, it’s a guarantee. The combat difficulty levels are awkwardly easy and the mechanics are strangely bizarre. All types of horrific enemies can be easily slaughtered with mortal weapons – rifles, shotguns and even crossbows. Sebastian can also run away and close a door behind him. It’s easy to survive, therefore why should there be any kind of fear for survival? This creates a security sensation at every corner. No matter how ugly and terrifying a monster might be, his existence will certainly be short. Besides, if anything reveals itself to be scary, it’s unlikely that it will be life threatening.

The Evil WithinAesthetics With No Impact

The Evil Within’s graphics are quite gorgeous in a general perspective. Environments and long distance scenes are spectacular. However, when it comes to in-doors scenarios and character detail things really fall apart. It’s known that most of the game takes place in-doors, so this is clearly a huge problem. When monsters lack detail and rather than scary, they look awkward, then you can’t expect to scare anyone. Also, there is simply no innovation in the enemy models. Walking corpses, cadavers with four arms, robot-butchers, pseudo-Frankensteins… Haven’t we seen all of those in previous horror games? Honestly, I find it hard to be affected by monsters I’ve seen innumerous times before.

After all these major issues, I am not sure how’s The Evil Within categorized as a horror-survival game because both terms are far from existent in this upcoming reality. When life means so little in a survival-horror game and when frighten elements are so poorly arranged, it’s hard to panic or feel scared. In fact, after four or five times of instant killing an oblivious monster or closing a door to escape, it starts to become funny and tedious. The irony of a clearly horrify failed attempt.