Returnal – game of the year (pic: Sony)
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Well, despite not really being too fussed about the new PlayStation Plus I jumped straight into the mid-tier as soon as it was available. Turned out to be a bit of a win too, because the first game I downloaded as part of my new subscription was Returnal, which I had liked the look of before it came out but was put off by the difficulty when the reviews landed.
I spent a good few hours playing it as soon as it was ready and absolutely love it, it’s a game that I genuinely would have not picked up and tried had it not been free! There are also a few other games in the catalogue that I’d been on the fence about too so all of a sudden I’m not worried about the summer games drought so much anymore.
First party releases not being available day one does mean that it’s not as good as Game Pass, but there are plenty of decent games in the catalogue so I’ll stick my head above the parapet and say that I’m a fan!
GC: We’ve always said Returnal is the best game of 2021.
Now the PS Plus revamp is live in the UK, and we can see the selection of games available, I’d be intrigued to hear what readers think of Sony’s offering.
If I didn’t already have a long backlog of games to get through, I’d at least try a month or two of the Extra tier. I’d be looking to try out games that haven’t quite convinced me to make a purchase despite knowing they’re critically acclaimed. These, more often than not, are down to high difficulty or being game genres I haven’t had much experience with, so the likes of Celeste and Dead Cells spring to mind.
If Sony manage to consistently get AA and indie game releases on the service on day one, like Game Pass, then I can see this being successful for them, even without day one first party game releases on there. Microsoft have done a fantastic job of fleshing out their (at times, barren) first party release schedule with quality new indie and AA game releases on Game Pass, like the recent addition of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge, and I think Sony need to replicate this on PS Plus. Whether they do, only time will tell…
GC: Indie game Stray is going to be day one on PlayStation Plus, so they’re already thinking along those lines.
I’ve been hearing a lot of criticism towards Sony recently, so wanted to share a positive experience. After 120+ hours of Elden Ring the right stick on my DualSense had begun to drift badly. This made an already difficult game almost impossible. Having only one controller, I delayed returning it as long as possible.
Eventually though I gave in and sent my DualSense back to Sony. That was last Tuesday and on Thursday I received a new controller. I was expecting to be unable to play for at least another week, so well done Sony.
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I viewed an article earlier about how Sony’s State of Play and Nintendo Direct updates have more YouTube views than any of their E3 shows. The reader comments were split between whether they were pro E3 or glad that it’s gone.
I decided to watch a few E3 videos of some game reveals, and I have to say I never envied the more reserved journalists who had to sit next to people literally crying over a reveal or endlessly yeah-ing, woo-ing and oh-my-godding hysterically (verbed by me and all rights reserved).
Almost acting as if the clouds had parted and the ascent on the escalator to heaven had begun because we were going to get to play a game. This God of War one is almost too enthusiastic. In amongst all the positives that GC experienced at E3 what were the worst negatives?
GC: But Sony and Nintendo haven’t had any E3 equivalent shows this year? There are no significant negatives to E3, we can’t begin to imagine why anyone would want it gone.
Yeah, it’s a big nope for me, in terms of Sega’s Hyenas game. I really don’t see how they expected anyone to be excited by that trailer or even the concept. And a multiplayer-only game that’s not free-to-play? Yeah, I think Sega are getting a bit behind the times there.
I’m only relieved this isn’t one of their promised ‘super games’. Never mind the Sonic cycle, I think anything to do with Sega goes through that same race of anticipation and then gradual disillusionment and realisation. Rather than a mega budget Panzer Dragoon Saga sequel I bet the super games are just more attempts to jump on a bandwagon of one sort or another. The first one will either be a battle royale or an open world Assassin’s Creed-alike. Book it.
Finally vanquished the Fire Giant in Elden Ring after around 45 to 50 attempts and I thought it was an amazingly visceral boss fight. I was awestruck by the gargantuan size of this fella, and his devastating reach always kept me on edge.
Giant ginger’s second phase was a bit of a nuisance as he’s over enthusiastic in getting his rolling pin on whenever you get too close enough to get stab happy, but my +18 Roger’s Rapier with poison Ash Of War, and +6 Mimic Ash helped me endure the gruelling battle of attrition. Ol’ belly mouth was something vicious indeed!
Fast forward a bit and now I strongly suspect I’m in the final area – which is visually arresting – and if I have to be honest, after nearly a 100 hours of play time Elden Ring may just be my favourite of all FromSoftware’s games. I’ll need at least another 50+ hours of rumination whilst I finish the game and do everything else to ascertain the absolute truth but yeah, this game is really, really special, man.
The first one’s free
Andrew J. said that Halo TV was starting on Channel 5; sadly not. They’re airing one episode as a taster, hoping you’ll be interested enough to subscribe to Paramount+ to watch the whole series.
A similar thing was done by Xbox, where they offered a free months subscription to Paramount+ but Halo was released weekly so you needed to be really canny about when you started your free month so you could watch it without subscribing.
Really enjoyed the interview with the Tenchu creator and some of the points being made about Japanese games in general. It never really occurred to me that all Japanese games are made on a relative low budget but I suppose they are. I imagine Final Fantasy games are expensive, and I’m guessing something like Elden Ring – but even that doesn’t have the highest end graphics, so I imagine it’s less than things like Assassin’s Creed or a Bethesda game.
I don’t know why this would be, especially with established franchise, but I suppose once you get used to making a certain amount of money by spending a certain amount of money, you don’t want to rock the boat and change the balance. To be honest it just makes me wish Microsoft would get on and buy a Japanese developer and start throwing money at them. I’m much more interested in what that would bring than any of the studios they have now.
I’ve not much confidence that will ever happen though. It’s pretty clear that Microsoft isn’t interested in Japan and never has been. And now Sony is the same, probably because they’re just trying to copy their competitor. It’s a shame but best of luck to Mr Endo and his smaller budget games, I will look out for Kamiwaza and whatever he does after with great interest.
In reference to reader JB, that’s OK, I’m glad my alerts about amiibo helped you, I’m always looking out for ones I may want to get.
PS. Just pre-ordered A Plague Tale: Requiem on PlayStation 5 as I enjoyed the first game so much I wanted to support the developer day one this time.
I still don’t see why we can’t have the original soundtrack for Sonic 3. It’s not as if they’ve banned all of Michael Jackson’s regular music or anything. Seems a bit overly cautious to me.
This week’s Hot Topic
The subject for this weekend’s Inbox was suggested by reader Gonch, who asks what’s the easiest video game you’ve ever played?
The debate over games that are unusually difficult will never end but what about the other end of the spectrum and games that are a lot easier than normal? What do you consider to be the easiest game you’ve ever come across and is it being easy a generally held belief or did you happen to be unusually good at it?
Do you enjoy easy games and what, if any, problems did its difficultly level create? Did you enjoy the game and do you think it would’ve been better or worse if it was harder?
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