Consoles meet PC, PC, meet Consoles?

Consoles meet PC, PC, meet Consoles?

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Today is a bit of a weird day for Sony’s PlayStation 4, Microsoft Xbox One and the traditional PC (and Mac). Out of nowhere the two console manufacturers announced some sort of PC related support. Sony’s was a small nugget but Microsoft’s announcements may make certain individuals think twice before picking up the Xbox One.

  • PS4 System Software 3.50 Will Support Remote Play for PC and Mac via PS.Blog
  • Forza Motorsport 6: Apex will debut on Windows Store for free this Spring via Xbox Wire
  • Future Forza Motorsport titles will be debuting on Xbox and Windows 10 via IGN
  • Gears of War: Ultimate Edition now available on Windows Store via Xbox Wire
  • Quantum Break will also be available on Windows Store via Xbox Wire

Sony’s little piece of news is a “nice to have”. I own a Vita and never bothered with Remote Play for a myriad of reasons that I won’t get into today. Making it available for PC makes the feature a little more attractive but I doubt I will be using it outside of curiosity.

Now Microsoft’s flurry of news, on the other hand, is setting a significant precedent. Gears of War, Forza Motorsport and Quantum Break — big first party Microsoft franchises — will be making their way to Windows 10 sooner or later. Fable and Killer Instinct were already previously announced for Windows 10 which only leaves Halo as the sole outlier. Will Halo 5 eventually make its debut on Windows 10? Will subsequent Halo games follow suit? It would make a whole lot of sense for Halo Wars 2 — a real time strategy game — to make its debut on Xbox and Windows 10 (with full keyboard and mouse support for the latter).

I have to stress the fact that I’m mentioning Windows 10 or Windows Store and not PC because there’s no guarantee or inkling that any of these Microsoft published titles are heading to other digital storefronts such as Steam. Microsoft is trying to entice people into their ecosystem through compelling software and they’re making a very good case for it with this latest effort.

The Windows Store has its limitations though courtesy of the Universal Windows Platform. They’ve sandboxed the executable to prevent things from hooking into it nullifying hacks and mods in the process. If you only care about the game Microsoft is selling then these limitations are moot. If mods are your thing then these games might as well have stayed on the Xbox One.

I’m in the former camp. I don’t care about mods or hacks (I’ll elaborate more on this at a later date). I just want to run my PC games at 1080p60 and I’m happy but I realize not everyone will be pleased with the closed nature of the Microsoft ecosystem.

Looking at this news and considering the fact that I’ve been configuring a new PC for the past couple of weeks, I don’t know how much playtime my Xbox One will receive in the future. I have Quantum Break on the way but that’s because I got it for cheap and my current PC isn’t up to snuff. I understand Microsoft’s position though. I’m not upset over their shift from hardware boundaries to software boundaries. It makes sense to expose their titles to the wider audience. There are over 110 million Windows 10 users out there compared to the 19 million on the Xbox One. If you’re a business man and you were faced with those numbers, you would be foolish not to make this shift. Not every single one of those 110 million users are running capable PCs but even a fifth of those will already exceed the Xbox One’s sales to date.

 

Paris Games Week?

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Another tradeshow was brought to our collective attention as Sony held a two hour press conference to open Paris Games Week. It was a well produced press conference but there weren’t any unexpected surprises. (Of course a Gran Turismo was coming, you’re a fool if you thought otherwise.)

Even without the bombastic reveals, it was nice to see release windows narrowed and more footage of announced titles.

Announcements

  • No Man’s Sky launches June 2016
  • Tekken 7 coming to PS4 & Xbox One
  • Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End launches March 18, 2016
  • Nier sequel officially named Nier Automata via NeoGAF
  • DRIVECLUB Bikes launches today as an standalone expansion
  • Gran Turismo Sport announced for PlayStation 4
  • Quantic Dream’s Detroit: Become Human announced for PlayStation 4
  • Street Fighter V launches February 16, 2016 via Capcom Unity
  • Uncharted 4 Multiplayer Beta will run from Dec. 4 – 13 via PlayStation.Blog

Media

My interest for Guerrilla Games’ Horizon: Zero Dawn grows with every piece of media I see. I don’t have a firm grasp on what exactly Monster Hunter is but this looks like a westernized Monster Hunter to me. I suggest you watch the walkthrough above, it’s neat to say the least. Then you can watch these two other videos if you wish.

Uncharted 4 Multiplayer PGW 2015 Trailer

Star Wars: Battlefront PGW 2015 Trailer

Detroit: Become Human PGW 2015 Reveal Trailer

Apple’s Fall 2015 Announcements

Apple’s Fall 2015 Announcements

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It’s Apple Fall 2015 media day. Here are some of my thoughts on the newest products. It was a solid lineup of new products that I doubt I’ll partake but it’s nice to see Apple march on.

iPad Pro

It’s a larger, faster and more productivity oriented tablet. You want a keyboard cover? It’s got one. You want a digital pen? Apple Pencil has you covered. It sounds a lot like a Microsoft Surface Pro 3. So why would one choose one over the other?

The Surface has a wider array of support thanks to its x86 Intel processors but the iPad Pro has the edge on portability with its thinner and lighter profile. Microsoft’s on-stage support of the iPad Pro is a nice gesture but the Surface Pro still has the edge for full Office suite support.

The starting price of $799 USD for the 32GB model was a legitimate surprise to me. This places it right there with the Microsoft Surface Pro 3’s cheapest model. I doubt anyone would actually live with the 32GB model if they’re trying to be productive but it’s nice to see a relatively affordable model.

Oh and they squeezed in the existence of the iPad Mini 4 as well.

Apple TV

The new Apple TV with its touch and voice enabled remote reminds me of Kinect and the Xbox One. As expected, it has robust Siri integration and all the small luxury touches that Apple is known for. It’s essentially all the niceties of iOS brought to the Apple TV which includes iOS apps such as games like Crossy Road to the big screen. But thanks to the more capable hardware, previously console and PC oriented titles like the new Guitar Hero and Disney Infinity 3.0 are making its way to the new Apple TV as well.

The ability to pair a game controller will also enable light but more sophisticated games akin to the console. Games like Transistor will be playable on the new Apple TV which makes it quite an attractive proposition for Indie games. Curiously, it only sports an A8 processor unlike the iPad Pro and iPhone 6S.

It’ll be available in late October for $149 USD for the 32GB and $199 USD for the 64GB.

iPhone 6S & 6S Plus

An improved 12MP camera with 4K capabilities, improved LTE Advanced support and the new A9 processor were to be expected but what’s the hook? Well apparently that’s 3D Touch.

3D Touch enables the pressure sensitivity that was found in the Force Touch trackpad on the iPhone 6S. Unfortunately for Apple, demonstrating 3D Touch is difficult. From the viewer’s perspective, 3D Touch (like Force Touch) is best experienced in person. 3D Touch demonstrations simply look like people are holding their finger on something for a brief period of time which is already something that multi-touch displays already do.

Other little Apple touches like using the Retina display as a giant flash for selfies and the “Live Photos” (aka animated GIFs) for their cameras.

It’s an S revision. Solid but not Earth shattering.

Your E3 Wishes Granted

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“It’s a hearts and minds game.”

It’s a phrase that I heard uttered after Sony’s E3 2013 press conference and suspect after this year’s E3 conferences from all publishers, we’re going to hear more and more of it.

It began with Bethesda’s late Sunday evening presentation where they showed off lengthy demos of Doom and Fallout 4; Pete Hines kept the pace brisk but slowed it down when it mattered. Todd Howard was brought on stage to speak to those who were forgoing Game of Thrones and other Sunday night programming to watch a streaming presentation. They knew who they were talking to. He dropped F-bombs when appropriate and tried his best to pitch Fallout: Shelter as a mobile game for those who scoff at F2P trappings.

It was an impressive showing for a publisher who never put on a show before. But was that a one off? Of course not.

Monday began with Microsoft and the announcement of Xbox One backwards compatibility. They followed up with Xbox One Elite controller targeted at the hardcore audience with its swappable components. They would mention its exorbitant price tag away from the cameras but the message was clear: “We’re catering to you, the gamer.”

Electronic Arts gave us more Mirror’s Edge and intentionally reminded us that we’re not going to see Faith pick up a firearm in this game. They tried their best to make their sports and other properties appealing but they knew why we’re here and why we would stick around after Pele and the Hoop God made their appearances. It was no coincidence that Star Wars: Battlefront was played on a PlayStation 4. A PC would have brought skepticism about the console version’s quality. They made sure that we saw those PlayStation prompts.

Ubisoft made us laugh and continued the trend of “one more thing” with the reveal of Ghost Recon: Wildlands at the end. Alicia Tyler continued to win fans over with her enthusiasm and energy. Her debut on Ubisoft’s stage may have been awkward at first but I felt she won everyone over. The annual Ubisoft message isn’t always palpable but she livens it up considerably.

And then there was Sony who transformed themselves into the genie of E3 by granting three wishes. Final Fantasy VII Remake, Shenmue III and The Last Guardian all made appearances on their stage. Not all three were exclusive to them but it was damn obvious that they wanted the PlayStation 4 attached to all of these. There was no lengthy TV show pitch and while it would have been nice to see VR on the big stage, I felt it could have been another Move situation if they demonstrated it on-stage; fine for those who already bought in but a tough sell to those who’re peering from the outside.

Nintendo’s digital event was marred by the fact that it didn’t have much to say this year. Nintendo reminded us that NX is a 2016 thing and we should be content with the likes of another 3D FPS Metroid game on the Nintendo 3DS. They pushed more Amiibos and celebrated Mario but it was evident that Nintendo’s 2015 was considerably weaker.

Square  Enix showed the people what they clamored for with Kingdom Hearts 3 and Deus Ex: Mankind Divided footage, they flexed their quality mobile offerings by leveraging a known quantity like Hitman Go and they promised Rise of Tomb Raider would have tombs. They even brought in PlatinumGames to work on a new Nier title while promising JRPG fans that they are committed to JRPGs with the creation of the Tokyo RPG Factory studio.

Square Enix served as a nice summation of everyone else’s E3 presentation. They focused on what worked and showed their audience that they’re understanding what their fans want — or at the very least — starting to listen. Who knows? Maybe we’ll get that Final Fantasy XII HD Remake that I wanted or Half Life 3.

Nearly Everyone Did Well

I have some marks to give out to the E3 press conferences. I’m rating pace, content and the delivery of said content.

  • Bethesda: A-
  • Microsoft: A
  • Electronic Arts: C+
  • Ubisoft: B-
  • Sony: A
  • Nintendo: D+
  • Square Enix: B+

Some personal notables:

  • ReCore and Horizon: Zero Dawn were the two new intellectual properties that immediately grabbed me.
  • A new Nier? Yes, please. The first one was unique but flawed. I’m glad Square Enix are bringing in action experts to help
  • Star Wars: Battlefront surprised me with how well it performed on consoles and if I’m not mistaken, DICE are targeting 60FPS.
  • I hope Tomb Raider Go lives up to Hitman Go’s lofty heights.

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