Breath of the Wild is a Masterpiece – Movies with Mikey

Breath of the Wild is a Masterpiece – Movies with Mikey

I have been a fan of Mikey’s film reviews for quite awhile. It’s fun to hear Mikey talk about video games every now and then. I have had an itch to replay Breath of the Wild for a few months and this video helped scratch it a tiny bit…or maybe it just made that desire worse. Either way, this video is a delightful dissection and observation of one of Nintendo’s best three years after its release. Remember how this game was made for the Wii U?

Ghost of Tsushima: Your Questions Answered – PlayStation.Blog

Ghost of Tsushima: Your Questions Answered – PlayStation.Blog

Reading through this Q&A, I was wondering if these really did come from social media or if they were a more carefully curated list of questions. Then I read this one:

Fantastic gameplay, however could you perhaps look at changing the physics of an arrow headshot? The backwards force was a tad unrealistic and over the top, otherwise an excellent demonstration!

The bowshot in question can be seen here. Good gracious people, it’s a video game about being a badass samurai. Let the longbow pop people back if Sucker Punch wants it to behave that way.

I digress.

The whole Q&A does a great job of providing more details about Ghost of Tsushima. Sony is being more aggressive with marketing and preview coverage now that their two big tittles are weeks away.

Q: Does choosing to fight like a Samurai or like a Ghost/Ninja have consequences? Was thinking it might be like the Good/Evil karma system?

Nate: There is no karma system. There’s one story we’re telling here, one journey for Jin.

As for the player making a choice, we want to be clear that there isn’t a binary choice for the player, it’s more about the player having freedom to play through any encounter in the style they prefer and wearing whichever armor they prefer, mixing and matching pieces of different armor sets. Your actions also aren’t limited by your armor – for example, you may have seen that the “Standoff” prompt appeared even in the Ghost section. You can still use tools like Smoke Bombs even if you’re wearing samurai armor. As we showed in the State of Play, that one scenario with the Shipyard played out very differently based on how the player approached the situation.

Sucker Punch’s choice to showcase the same encounter two different ways seems to have led to lots of confusion about what kinds of gameplay decisions people will actually have. I was confused about the narrative implications, but once the lack of a karma system was confirmed, those gameplay concerns melted away. I think showing off gameplay off using both styles would help quite a bit.

Nate: Some have watched the State of Play footage and concluded that Ghost of Tsushima is an easy game, which isn’t the case. Combat is designed to be lethal both ways, not just for the player versus enemies. Jin’s foes can definitely take him out quickly, too.

The gameplay we showed was captured by one of the test leads on Ghost, and he’s very skilled with the katana. Plus, Jin had some abilities unlocked that he doesn’t begin the game with. We wanted to show what combat can look like when the player has mastered the controls and abilities — when Jin is at his best. We think most will find the combat satisfyingly challenging.

Why would players want to see someone lose? Of course Sucker Punch chose a person that is very skilled at combat to demo the game. Why did Bruce Straley demo The Last of Us and Uncharted 4? Because he is good at the game! The Souls-like genre has made action fans masochists. I have zero doubts that Ghost of Tsushima will offer people a good challenge.

Q: Will it feature different endings based on the fighting style the players use more often (Samurai or Ghost)?

Nate: The game tells the human story about Jin’s sacrifice to become the Ghost. Players can choose to primarily fight with a sword, bow or stealth; either way Jin becomes a legend to the people of Tsushima, and a terror to the Mongol Invaders.

I may be concerned with possible gameplay mechanics lining up with the revenge-focused narrative, but I am super down with this game’s story premise.

Q: How long is the game?

…Let’s put it another way: Most of our play testers would spend a full week on Ghost and not finish the storyline. We know everyone wants a number, but we’re confident to say that if you want a satisfying story in a big, content-rich world with lots to do and see and lots of characters to get to know, you’ll find what you’re looking for in Ghost of Tsushima.

If the mechanics and structure in place have a satisfying and addictive loop, this sounds great. If the game is shallower than I expect, it may feel like it over stays its welcome. I am confident in Sucker Punch though. They’ve been making open world games (arguably) since the PS2 with Sly Cooper. For purists of the definition, then they have been at it since the beginning of the PS3 generation with inFamous. Sucker Punch knows open world game design.

Q: Will we be able to dual-wield both swords at the same time while attacking?

Nate: No, Jin was trained to fight with a single sword in a traditional style.

Gotta have some new feature for the sequel.

What Casual Games Are Like For Someone Who Doesn’t Play Games – Razbuten

What Casual Games Are Like For Someone Who Doesn’t Play Games – Razbuten

Razbuten’s videos are a treat. This is some great fun to watch, especially after watching the other experiment videos. 

Back in my days of yore (i.e. high school), with my profound wisdom of dating, I thought the coolest thing would be turning my girlfriend into a “gamer.” 

“I love this hobby, so she will too!”

I learned quickly that forcing my hobby onto someone is not how you get them to like it and is certainly not healthy for a relationship. People don’t always like the same thing, especially partners. 

Now with my wife Abby, I know that wholeheartedly. She does like some games and they are usually not the ones I have or will play. That’s perfectly okay! She has already sunk 200+ hours into Animal Crossing: New Horizons. I have barely put in 15 hours. I love watching her discover what she loves and hearing her share it with me. That’s why I write about this industry; to share what I love with others. To watch Abby do the same with me is delightful. 

Jim Ryan PS5 Interview – GamesIndustry.biz

Sony’s Jim Ryan: “It’s time to give fans something that can only be enjoyed on PlayStation 5” by Christopher Dring for GamesIndustry.biz

“I think the best way that we can address this is by providing the best possible value proposition that we can. I don’t necessarily mean lowest price. Value is a combination of many things. In our area it means games, it means number of games, depth of games, breadth of games, quality of games, price of games… all of these things and how they avail themselves of the feature set of the platform.”

Sounds to me like the PS5 is going to be a pricey console. My guess has been $500 the whole time.

“We have always said that we believe in generations. We believe that when you go to all the trouble of creating a next-gen console, that it should include features and benefits that the previous generation does not include. And that, in our view, people should make games that can make the most of those features.

This statement was in response to making PS5 games compatible with PS4, like Microsoft is doing with Xbox One and Xbox Series X. I think Sony making a clear cut for forward progress is the right move. Microsoft is naturally limiting its developers by making this a standard for the first few years. 

Now, making PS4 games playable on PS5 is a different matter. Microsoft has done a wonderful job of supporting legacy games. Sony’s messaging has been blurry. Just this morning, Eurogamer broke a story that PS4 games submitted for review after a date in July will be required to run of PS5. We know at least The Last of Us Part II and Ghost of Tsushima will also work.

Sony needs to make a clear statement about their backward compatibility plans. Either way, they need to clear the air.

Overall, Ryan thinks that the games industry can be “pretty proud of itself” for how it has responded to the pandemic. But he acknowledges that uncertainty remains. Right now, PS5 is coming, its games are on track and there’s plenty of excitement that’s sure to deliver a strong launch. But there are potentially longer-term challenges, and for consumers there may be games that will take a little longer to arrive.

Not only is the PS5 on track, but apparently its games are too. Nice to have reassurance that they still are on time. Wonder what we will see next week.

The Last of Us Part II Pre-Orders Outpace Spider-Man in Europe

PlayStation planning June 4 PS5 event, CEO says supplies look good for launch by Ian Sherr for CNET

While the primary focus of the article is the recently announced PS5 event, you can’t write about PlayStation right now without mentioning The Last of Us Part II.

Despite the drama, Ryan said demand for the game remains strong. In one example, he noted that Sony tallied more preorders in Europe for The Last of Us Part II than it did for Marvel’s Spider-Man at the same point before its launch. That 2018 superhero game, which was also a PS4 exclusive, was considered one of the best games of that year.

“We hope this’ll be a defining game for this generation,” Ryan said of The Last of Us Part II. And though Sony hasn’t announced plans to offer a more visually rich version of the game for the PS5 when it launches, Ryan said the version launched in June will run on the PS5 without issue.

Genuinely surprised that The Last of Us Part II is already outpacing Marvel’s Spider-Man in Europe. Sony is going to have another record-setter on their hands.

Sounds like social engagement isn’t major a factor in these sales.

PlayStation 5 Event Announced for June 4

You’re Invited: A Look at the Future of Gaming on PlayStation 5 – PlayStation.Blog

That’s why I’m excited to share that we will soon give you a first look at the games you’ll be playing after PlayStation 5 launches this holiday. The games coming to PS5 represent the best in the industry from innovative studios that span the globe. Studios, both larger and smaller, those newer and those more established, all have been hard at work developing games that will showcase the potential of the hardware.

This digital showcase will run for a bit more than an hour and, for the first time, we will all be together virtually experiencing the excitement together. A lack of physical events has given us an amazing opportunity to think differently and bring you on this journey with us, and hopefully, closer than ever before. This is part of our series of PS5 updates and, rest assured, after next week’s showcase, we will still have much to share with you.

Let’s. Go.

Actually knowing a date and time when Sony will be talking PS5 feels elating. The rush of excitement I felt when seeing confirmation was great. E3 may not be happening this year, but the spirit is still alive.

But what is a launch without games?

What is a next-gen launch without games indeed. I am glad Sony is going to be talking about games. Hopefully, it is better than Microsoft’s first showing. If Sony steps to the plate and knocks out the games part of their reveal, they could regain significant ground in the mindshare. We know Microsoft is talking their first-party games in July. If Sony can reveal some absolute first-party PlayStation Studios PS5 games, it will be a major win. Sony already had dominant chatter when they had exclusive association with the Unreal Engine 5 reveal.

People care about gameplay.

With the focus also being on games, I have a feeling we will not see the console itself. That would also include a launch day and pricing. The summer is usually when those details are announced, so hopefully both major players will detail the actual launch of their consoles soon.

In an interview with CNET, PlayStation CEO Jim Ryan continued to reiterate that PS5 is on schedule for a holiday launch worldwide.

“We’re going to launch this holiday, we will have a global launch.”

“Right now, we’re not seeing anything saying to us there’s going to be problems with quantities or we won’t be able to launch the way we want.”

Happy early birthday to me!

Inside the Details of The Last of Us Part II

The Last of Us Part II – Inside the Details | PS4 – YouTube

“So one of the things that makes Naughty Dog special is our insane attention to detail. and that comes from just extreme amount of research.”

I know it is literally in the name of the video, but the attention to detail that Naughty Dog seems to have gone after here is bonkers.

“How red their eyes get is controllable. Tears flow off their eyes and their face is all new tech we’ve developed for this game.”

Ones and zeroes that translate to trying to convey genuine human emotion. I genuinely wonder if they’ll pull it off.

“We’ve gone as far as we possibly can go to make our human enemies feel as human as possible.”

Variable breathing based off a heartbeat; Unique names and callouts; Reacting accurately to hit location.

Good gravy.

“They feel real and it makes the situation that you’re in feel real in a way you haven’t seen before and you might not be ready for.”

This game is going to be gruesome.

“There was a ton of research done into foliage and different kind of foliage that exists in different parts of the country to make those areas feel authentic. Studying local architechture of wherever we are and making sure that feels authentic”

People were noticing this detail back in 2017! With a game world that is reclaimed by nature, it is interesting to see the dedication to honoring the real world locations. Translating them to their post-apocalyptic vision must be a fascinating task.

“We took three trips up to Seattle. We actually got photos scanned out of natural elements in the forest and went through and walked the path of Ellie through Seattle to actually get as much reference as we could.”

Can’t wait for Seattle to get the “Ellie Trail” just like Boston has the Freedom Trail.

In all seriousness though, walking the actual path of the game’s physical route sounds like an incredibly smart, detail oriented idea. Then they have to imagine that route through the eyes of their interpretation of a war-torn, overgrown Seattle.

This video in particular did not make it into my history of Naughty Dog during the PS4 era. I do explore how this dedication to detail has evolved over the past console generation. It is a fascinating story. I am publishing it on June 5, one week before reviews for The Last of Us Part II go live. I hope you’ll check it out next week.

The Last of Us Part II Looks Better than Before

I saw this tweet (thanks Logan) that compared a scene from yesterday’s State of Play to the same scene in the 2017 Paris Games Week trailer. The Last of Us Part II has gotten quite the visual upgrade and polish over the last three years.

The news cycle is used to discussing video game visual downgrades, often blown out of proportion by a vocal, seemingly-entitled, minority of whiners. I figured it’d be nice to share the improvements this time around.

I recaptured the screenshots from direct downloaded footage, instead of through Twitter’s compression. I even made a GIF that alternates between the two screenshots. Turns out that three years of development can help make a game look better.

Exploring Why are The Last of Us Part II Numbers are Lower than Expected

I saw this Twitter thread after The Last of Us Part II State of Play thanks to my buddy Logan (mute filters are strong).

I keep a very keen eye on social metrics. Something I’ve noticed is The Last of Us Part II is not ramping on social media the way that other record holders like God of War and Spidey PS4 did. Today’s TLOU State of Play peaked at 98k concurrent. Ghost of Tsushima peaked at over 180k.

Now the question? What does this mean?

Do I think TLOU Part II will underperform? Not at all. But it is interesting how its social media numbers just are not particularly impressive. Avoiding spoilers? People feel they’ve already seen enough? Geat [sic] reviews could change everything.

I genuinely have no idea how to read this. One thing I know, The Last of Us Part II will sell damn well. Also social metrics by no means, are 100% reflective of sales potential. It’s just odd how the game isnt ramping on places like YouTube how one would expect.

One thing I’d caution. No one should take what I’m saying as evidence TLOU Part II won’t sell well or break records I’m not saying that at all. But not huge numbers for TLOU content has been a trend for weeks now.

Benji-Sales on Twitter

There are so many facets to these numbers. I want to explore them and expand upon them more than 280 characters can. Let’s start with establishing some context surrounding The Last of Us Part II.

At the end of April 2020, The Last of Us Part II had a major leak. Story beats and cutscenes were passed around the Internet like kids passing a flask around a schoolyard. Removed from the context of the game and its story as a whole, a vocal minority began a spoiler-fueled tirade that sounded more like a temper tantrum. This has spurred a high spoiler alert for people that want to play the game unspoiled.

TLOU State of Play peaked at 98k concurrent. Ghost of Tsushima peaked at over 180k.

Comparing Ghost of Tsushima to The Last of Us Part II is not an apt comparison, outside of the two having back-to-back State of Play presentations. Before its State of Play, no one really knew how Ghost of Tsushima played. Sure, there was the gameplay reveal at E3 2018, but that was HUD-free and had no explanation. It was solely a taste. As a new IP, Ghost of Tsushima has a natural aura of curiosity surrounding it.

The Last of Us, as a series, is a known quantity. With 20+ million copies sold for the first game alone, people generally know what to expect. With The Last of Us Part II specifically, the game has had more detailed gameplay reveals that showcase the series’ refinement. We are in the calm before the storm of release.

Avoiding spoilers? People feel they’ve already seen enough? Geat [sic] reviews could change everything.

Super positive reviews could absolutely stir the pot of chatter. Those drop in two weeks. Sprinkle great reviews in with the negative spoiler chatter and you’ll probably have spicy discord online. None of that really sounds fruitful.

It’s just odd how the game isnt ramping on places like YouTube how one would expect.

I think the fact engagement not ramping up on places “like YouTube” could be due to those places generally being mine fields of spoilers. The Last of Us Part II was spoiled in a live chat for the Assassin’s Creed Valhalla art reveal for Pete’s sake.

Something I’ve noticed is The Last of Us Part II is not ramping on social media the way that other record holders like God of War and Spidey PS4 did.

We have to consider the coverage roll out differences between these games. COVID-19 did not force God of War or Marvel’s Spider-Man to alter their press coverage. These games went on world press tours and had numerous outlets talking about and previewing the games. Sony has had to handle the conversation for The Last of Us Part II directly. Instead of multiple, hands-on perspectives for the same portion of gameplay, there are multiple discussions about the same hands-off footage. We all have the same experience to discuss. There is no variety in the coverage. That variety will come with the reviews on June 12.

One thing I know, The Last of Us Part II will sell damn well.

Yes it will. Uncharted 4 sold 2.7 million copies in its first weekGod of War sold 3.1 million in its first three days. Marvel’s Spider-Man sold 3.3 million copies in its first three days.

Xbox Series X Backward Compatibility – Xbox Wire

Xbox Series X: The Most Powerful and Compatible Next-Gen Console with Thousands of Games at Launch – Xbox Wire

Backwards compatible games run natively on the Xbox Series X hardware, running with the full power of the CPU, GPU and the SSD. No boost mode, no downclocking, the full power of the Xbox Series X for each and every backward compatible game.

Microsoft continues their trend of clear, powerful, and effective communication and marketing. To watch this unfold and compare it to the Xbox One roll out is astounding.

This post focuses on Microsoft’s continued trend of backward compatibility. They have been unparalleled in continuous support for legacy consoles. While you can’t play every Xbox game, the support and growing catalog is remarkable. With the Series X, the backward compatibility is sounds unique in the ways it will alter the old games themselves, bringing features and performance never imagined when they were originally developed. It is not unlike the conversation surrounding classic games and FPGA consoles.

We are also creating whole new classes of innovations including the ability to double the frame rate of a select set of titles from 30 fps to 60 fps or 60 fps to 120 fps.

I wonder what these select titles will be. I imagine the best place to start is with games that Microsoft already owns. I would also hope that this is optional to the player. Bringing games to frame rates not originally intended for can feel off-putting.

An example I like to point to is Mario Kart 8: When you play with three or four people in splitscreen multiplayer, the framerate drops from 60fps to 30fps. While this is an example of the frame rate dropping, not increasing, the feeling is the same. An example of the frame rate increasing can be found in The Last of Us Remastered. The PS4 port offers up to 60fps, but the game’s new fluidity feels out of place, at least to me.

Can you imagine Banjo-Kazooie at 120fps?

In partnership with the Xbox Advanced Technology Group, Xbox Series X delivers a new, innovative HDR reconstruction technique which enables the platform to automatically add HDR support to games. As this technique is handled by the platform itself, it allows us to enable HDR with zero impact to the game’s performance and we can also apply it to Xbox 360 and original Xbox titles developed almost 20 years ago, well before the existence of HDR.

This sounds like black magic. I have got to see this to believe this. This almost sounds like fan hacks for older games by tweaking the actual visual representation of the game to bring it to more modern standards. Again, I hope this is an option. Microsoft has been giving millions of players choice and I don’t think this will be any different.

With more than 100,000 hours of play testing already completed, thousands of games are already playable on Xbox Series X today, from the biggest blockbusters to cult classics and fan favorites. Many of us in Team Xbox play on the Xbox Series X daily as our primary console and switching between generations is seamless. By the time we launch this holiday, the team will have spent well over 200,000 hours ensuring your game library is ready for you to jump in immediately.

This is the takeaway. If there was a box quote, this would be the one for backward compatibility.

Look at Sony’s messaging for backward compatibility back in March 2020.

A quick update on backward compatibility – With all of the amazing games in PS4’s catalog, we’ve devoted significant efforts to enable our fans to play their favorites on PS5. We believe that the overwhelming majority of the 4,000+ PS4 titles will be playable on PS5.

We’re expecting backward compatible titles will run at a boosted frequency on PS5 so that they can benefit from higher or more stable frame rates and potentially higher resolutions. We’re currently evaluating games on a title-by-title basis to spot any issues that need adjustment from the original software developers.

In his presentation, Mark Cerny provided a snapshot into the Top 100 most-played PS4 titles, demonstrating how well our backward compatibility efforts are going. We have already tested hundreds of titles and are preparing to test thousands more as we move toward launch. We will provide updates on backward compatibility, along with much more PS5 news, in the months ahead.

I feel like I genuinely understand Sony’s messaging, but will the mass market? Microsoft is speaking to the people here. Sony may have the best selling console this generation (as well as the best of all time), but they are trudging along to reveal the PS5. If there is an event next week, I hope it is clear, direct, powerful, and shows some actual games.

Sometime in June, Microsoft is supposed to host another edition of Xbox 20/20. I wonder if this backward compatibility post was released to clear up air time and dedicate as much time as possible to the new console details. Microsoft has a store page.

We are very, very close.

The Last of Us Part II State of Play

The Last of Us Part II – State of Play | PS4 – YouTube

Apparently this is a weekly series for the time being. I’ not sure if this will go on for four more weeks until launch day or just another week or so. Next Wednesday (5/27/20) is when the next “Inside” video will be published. If I was a betting man, I’d put money on it covering the music.

Inside the Gameplay

I lost a bet with myself. This State of Play was a mixture of old and new footage that all ended with a near 10-minute chunk of brand new gameplay. Neil narrates the beginning of the video. He reiterates talking points from the past while pulling back just the bottom corner of the curtain for new tidbits.The scope of Seattle sounds particularly interesting from a design perspective for a Naughty Dog game.

There are so many takeaways from this presentation that beg questioning. I wonder what the scope of the sequences set in the past will be. Just how “wide” is the wide-linearity? How will Naughty Dog tackle “side narratives?” The Lost Legacy was a proving ground for side quests, but that was not really narrative-driven outside of the conversations that occurred over the course of the journey.

My biggest takeaway is the gameplay itself. There really is a level of refinement here with the mechanics. I get major MGS3 vibes from the analog stealth and consumable weapon elements. That fusion of stealth and survival is often thrilling and tense when executed well. Hopefully it feels as natural and elegant as it looks.

This State of Play is also the last chunk I will be writing about in Chasing the Stick. I cannot wait to wrap it up (for now) and share it with everyone next Friday, June 5. You can check out the announcement post here. If you want to listen to the audio version, the links below will let you add it to your podcast player of choice.

Apple Podcasts – SpotifyOvercastCastroPocket Casts – RSS

Sony Is Said to Plan PS5 Conference for as Early as Next Week – Bloomberg

Sony Is Said to Plan PS5 Conference for as Early as Next Week by Jason Schreier and Takashi Mochizuki for Bloomberg

The virtual event could be held June 3, though some people also cautioned that plans have been in flux and that the date may change.

More rumors and reports that indicate that Sony is revealing the PS5 properly next week. I am surprised that Sony has not given a date yet, if that is the case. The timing could be in flux due to COVID-19, but that seems light considering it is some sort of pre-recorded video that will be streamed.

Sony has another State of Play airing today, this time revolving around The Last of Us Part II. Maybe Sony will announce the PS5 event later this week as to not cloud the final big promotional push for The Last of Us Part II.