Two console annoucements in the recent weeks and recent interesting developments in the Ubisoft and the future of thier games, it has been an interesting few weeks in the gaming sphere.
It was confirmed earlier this month that Nintendo has left Earth and currently resides on another planet. This was confirmed by the announcement of the Switch OLED, an updated Switch Model boasting a 7-inch screen, a wired LAN port, a stand for tabletop play, an improved audio experience, and internal storage of up to 64GB. This announcement disappointed many fans that had bought into the often leaked idea of a Switch that has improved innards, and not just a new face. Nintendo doubled down on the lack of Pro model in a tweet on 19/07/2021, disparaging remarks that the profit margin on the Switch OLED was larger than that of previous models, and throwing in the a little kick in the guts to say that they have no plans for launching any other Switch models at this time. Nintendo continues to do their own thing and will continue to get away with it, lovable little rascals that they are.
If you need further evidence of Nintendo’s immunity to widespread bad press, look no further than the remake of Skyward Sword! Whilst older news, the locking of a gameplay feature behind a paywall, that has limited availability is not all that nice and apart from a couple of tweets, Nintendo has not felt the fury of Gamers I feel that other less reputable companies would experience if they tried similar shenanigans. Will Nintendo ever fall in the eyes of gamers, or can they continue to hide behind Mario’s Mustache?
Though as they say, when one game window closes, another game opens and Lord Gaben has come to the rescue of gamers wanting to play modern-ish games on the go. The announcement of the Steam Deck promises to be everything you want and more. An all in one portable PC with access to your steam library on the go is a very tempting proposition for any gamer with more than 100 games in their steam library, which is less face it, everyone. No longer will I be tempted to buy the games on Switch I already own on Steam just for the convenience of playing in my hallway seated on an ottomon the second I get home from work. With various storage amounts in the 3 different models and the ability to install any software you choose on the machine, it promises a lot, including totally ridiculous things like attaching 2 fight sticks to it to play local co-op on a 7 inch screen. Do the people that market these consoles ever play a game on them!? Anyway, a promising announcement with a lot of hype behind it. I look forward to hearing about the North American Testing phase before the Steam Deck launches in Australia hopefully next year.
Another fascinating development over the last fortnight was the leaked by Jason Schreier and quickly confirmed by Ubisoft – Assassins Creed Infinity. Moving on from the annual or bi annual releases of the Assassins Creed games, Infinity hopes to allow the franchise “to evolve in a more integrated and collaborative manner”. Whilst not confirmed by Ubisoft, Schreier’s link posited that Infinity will adopt a live service approach and will continue to grow and evolve after launch of the game. With similar reports a few months ago about Ubisoft wanting to crack the live service market, things are starting to fall into place. Personally I have thought it was only a matter of time before a western company tried to replicate the success of something like Genshin Impact, and Assassin Creed is in a great position to do so, having already integrated alot of microtransactions and no problem of letting players grind away.
The previous reports of Ubisoft wanting to explore more live service options were also corroborated this week with the announcement of Tom Clancy’s XDefient, a 6v6 multiplayer FPS. Announced at a time where I have thought about picking up a new shooter – so very intriguing to me, but it remains to be seen if ‘fast paced fire fights meet punk rock mosh pits’ is a winning combination. Early reactions have been extremely beige to the game, but the game also does not seem to be slated for a forthcoming release. Ubisoft has definitely taken some lessons away from Hyperscape, but if these are the right lessons it also remains to be seen.
Scarlet Nexus Halftime Thoughts.
For me, Scarlet Nexus was love at first sight, drawing me in with its interesting enemy design and promises of fast paced character action gameplay with psychokinesis abilities. Now at the halfway point in Yuito’s story (one of the two story and protagonist choices), I can say that my initial thoughts and hopes for the game have been largely confirmed.
The combat of Scarlet Nexus is far and away the highlight of the game. Yuito’s blend of slashes with the sword and the slamming of cars make for a satisfying and entertaining basis of a combat system. Slamming the environment into an enemy and following up with a dash in and slash is yet to lose its feeling. Thus far the progression of the combat system has been steady, and has largely come in the form of extra attacks based on the companions abilities. These additions add further flare to the combat, and the extra attacks were a welcome addition to the toolkit.
The tying in of the combat abilities to the relationships with the companions is an interesting twist, though currently feels that you only have to do the minimum to get the results, perhaps the final companion levels will only be attainable with hefty gift giving and some grinding. Though the first half of the game has been fairly free of grinding and has been set on a mostly linear path, Side quests have been offered, but I have not bothered to go out of my way to complete them and do not feel hamstrung by that approach. Some have been completed in the normal course of the story and being rewarded for the quest does not even involve going back to the quest giver, merely navigating to the quest screen to hand in, an excellent feature that avoids the load screens you would have to otherwise face.
After the initial surprise of the minimally animated cutscenes, they have really grown on me and the feature lets you focus on the story, which moves at breakneck speeds in some sections. One minute your friends with someone, next your enemies and the third minute you’re having lunch with them. Other than the awkward timing of the companions’ episodes against the main plot, the story has had me hooked, and from Yuito’s perspective an interesting mystery to unravel and learning the dark secrets of the institution you have trusted for so long. Anime tropes aside, the story is compelling and the characters are given plenty of time to breathe with the addition of the companion episodes between story beats.
Overall my first 12 hours with Scarlet Nexus have been one of my favourite gaming experiences of the year thus far, and is looking a good contender for my top 5 of the year.