The Latest on Lockhart – Thurrott

The Latest on Lockhart by Brad Sams for Thurrott

Here’s a fun fact though, the original launch plans for Lockhart was that it was going to be released in Mid-October. That may not sound all that surprising, but Anaconda, the series X, was going to release in late August; clearly plans have been adjusted since the conception of the hardware.

Obviously, none of this can be confirmed now, since plans would have changed due to COVID-19, but what a wild world it would have been to launch the next-gen Xbox in August!

If there is a lower powered Xbox launching near the launch of the Series X, I have a hard time imagining the two launching apart now. Say the Series X releases in November and the Series S aims for January, keeping the originally planned two month gap. There could be a lot of people miffed that the cheaper box came out after the Holiday shopping season. I see this as a dual launch now.

Launch timing aside, while I personally wouldn’t buy the cheaper, fewer-featured box, I imagine that the mass consumer would just go for the cheaper box. Microsoft is looking to deliver a killing blow at the start of this generation. Sony has two boxes, but they have feature parity, minus a physical disc drive. Microsoft will have two new boxes, with different performance, plus continuing cross-generation support for the Xbox One. Halo Infinite could be playable on six different pieces of hardware; Xbox One, Xbox One S, Xbox One X, Xbox Series S, Xbox Series X, and PC (what a naming nightmare). That has to be a testing and optimizing mountain to climb.

No surprise that those dates have slipped and the announcement timeline for Lockhart has been far more fluid than we have seen in previous years. That’s why it’s a bit hard to lock down the exact date but the announcement should be coming sooner, rather than later.

I don’t understand why they wouldn’t use June to reveal and educate consumers about Lockhart.

But the big unknown will be the pricing. If the consoles were only $50 difference, even though consumers are typically very price sensitive, the overhead of launching two consoles with that difference doesn’t make much sense. The minimum price difference needs to be $100 or more to create enough of a gap to make the additional marketing and the cost of educating the consumer worthwhile.

$100 is the minimum difference these two Xbox consoles need to have. If the Series X costs $500 then that could lead to a $400 Series S. If the PS5 comes in over $500, Microsoft will dominate the pricing discussion. If they can come in clutch with the launch line up and promising games, then Xbox will have solid footing for the generation to come.

Andy McNamara Leaves Game Informer after 29 years

It’s Hard To Say Goodbye by Andy McNamara for Game Informer

I was 19 when the first issue of Game Informer released back in 1991. For me, it was a dream come true. There I was. In print. Official. I had done something I (and my parents) thought was impossible: I turned my love of video games into a job.

By some miracle, I’ve had that job my whole adult life. I worked hard, moved up, and had the pleasure of being part of Game Informer every step of the way. However, this is where that journey ends; after 327 issues, this will be my last one. I’m stepping away from games journalism.

What an incredible run. Truly the end of an era. Video game media and coverage is an entirely different beast, even from when I dreamed of making it nearly a decade ago.

Best of luck with your new venture Andy.

Early Apple Silicon DTK Geekbench Scores

Looks like somebody uploaded DTK benchmark results for Geekbench 4, and it completely spanks my iMac even in Rosetta virtualization. We’re finally getting to test the longstanding ‘the chip in this iPad is faster than most Macs’ theory, like for like

Of note: my iMac is eight logical cores at 3.6GHz, 2012-era, the DTK in this result is four cores at 2.4GHz (running under Rosetta emulation)

Steve Troughton-Smith via Twitter

Dannnnnnnng. Imagine what Apple chips will do with fans and thermal headroom and applications running natively…

Microsoft will close out June without a big Xbox 20/20 moment – Eurogamer

Microsoft will close out June without a big Xbox 20/20 moment by Tom Phillips for Eurogamer

Microsoft has spent June recapping Xbox Series X details in a series of Xbox Wire blogs. The content has largely been about features we knew about already, such as game optimisation on Xbox Series X, Smart Delivery, and… a round-up of everything else announced so far. The month’s biggest Microsoft “moment” was, arguably, the surprise it was killing streaming service Mixer to work with Facebook Gaming instead. It’s fair to say that was not Microsoft’s intended next-gen marketing beat.

Seems like Microsoft’s plan for June was to simply repeat themselves. Sony regained goodwill with a strong games showcase for the PS5 and being directly associated with the Unreal Engine 5 reveal.

The original plan was to showcase the Xbox Series S as part of Xbox’s big E3 2020 show, so the proposition of a cheaper next-gen option could be explained properly, sat alongside the graphical powerhouse provided by the beefier Series X, both playing the same next-gen games.

But when E3 was cancelled and remote working hindered progress on various internal game projects, it became clear Microsoft could no longer show both its boxes and next-gen games all at the same time.

Understandable that a “Lockhart” announcement would get pushed back, in a general sense. Why not take the clearly repetitive month of June as an opportunity to reveal and explain the Xbox Series S? Especially in light of Sony having two SKUs for the PS5, something no one really expected. Strikes me as foolish to keep it in the wings.

The other looming question is price. Sony and Microsoft appear to be playing a game of chicken. Phil Spencer has openly talked about staying agile with Series X pricing. Sony appears to be ignoring the question. I feel like Microsoft desperately wants to undercut Sony. If this rumored Xbox Series S is much weaker than Series X and/or the PS5, but significantly cheaper, it’ll be a win for Microsoft. If Microsoft can make both their next-gen offerings cheaper than the PS5, it’ll be an opportunity for marketing domination.

Microsoft needs to come out swinging in July with games. Make the next Xbox more enticing than numbers on a spreadsheet and flashy features in a sizzle reel. The Halo teaser from last week zapped my pulse for Xbox hype back to life. There are rumors that Fable will make an appearance. What is The Initiative working on? I hope Microsoft answers these questions and teases more.

The Last of Us Part II sells more than 4 million copies – PlayStation.Blog

The Last of Us Part II sells more than 4 million copies – PlayStation.Blog

We’re delighted to report that The Last of Us Part II is now the fastest-selling PS4 exclusive ever with more than 4 million copies sold through as of June 21.

I had to take a break from writing my review to share this news. The previous record holder was Final Fantasy VII Remake with 3.5 million copies and the previous first-party exclusive to hold the record was Marvel’s Spider-Man with 3.3 million copies. And that 4 million was five days ago.

It became the top-selling first-party PS4 exclusive in Japan its opening week. It outperformed GTA V’s launch on PlayStation in Russia.

For even more context, The Last of Us sold 7 million copies at the end of the PS3’s lifecycle in one year. Combined with The Last of Us Remastered, the original game has sold 20 million copies in six years. The Last of Us Part II did nearly 1/4 of those numbers in three days at the end of the PS4’s lifecycle.

May its survival be long indeed.

Charting Naughty Dog’s Metacritic Scores

With The Last of Us Part II finally released, I decided to make more charts. I did a few within Chasing the Stick: The History of Naughty Dog during the PS4 Era and also did one about the time between announcement and release. Now with the highly anticipated sequel’s reviews published, I thought now would be a great time to look at the studio’s Metacritic* scores since making games for PlayStation.

*Both Crash Bandicoot and Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back do not have Metacritic pages. Their averages were pulled from Game Rankings via Wikipedia*

*The Last of Us Part II’s score was taken on June 17, 2020. This may change since the game is newly released *

I colored the charted by console generation then placed the pertinent game logo on each bar. The lowest score is 76 with Jak X: Combat Racing, which happens to be the first game at Naughty Dog that current Vice President Neil Druckmann worked on before going onto Uncharted. They have two titles tied for the highest score of 96; both Uncharted 2: Among Thieves and The Last of Us Part II.

Their average score (out of all these averages) is 88.94%. They have not had a game below 80 since 2007, with 6 out of the 9 games released since then being in the 90s.


Now that I’ve actually beaten The Last of Us Part II, if I scored reviews, I’d agree with the 10/10 reviews. I haven’t read or watched any yet: I wanted to keep my head clean and clear so I can come up with my own take as I write my own review.

iOS and macOS Overviews – MacStories

iOS and iPadOS 14: The MacStories Overview by Ryan Christoffel for MacStories

macOS Big Sur: The MacStories Overview by John Voorhees for MacStories

WWDC 2020 was significant for Apple in more ways than one. I may be new to writing about Apple, but I think I can take the way I’ve approached video game coverage here at Max Frequency and apply it to Apple. There is no shortage of insightful and thorough WWDC coverage and observations: I have hours of podcasts already downloaded. As for the big-picture, gut-reaction to the big three operating systems, I turned to MacStories for their overview coverage.

Widgets Galore

Widgets are breaking free of their Today View prison.Yes, Android and other operating systems have had this for years. It is still exciting for those of us that prefer the Apple ecosystem. I promise, it’s okay. Ironically enough, I was recently made aware of these sorts of widgets in jailbreaking from Snazzy Labs.

I actually briefly ran iOS 14 beta 1 on my daily carry (an iPhone Xs Max). Widgets have made me rethink my home screen for the first time in probably half a decade. I’m a habitual person. In my all too brief testing, I just made a whole page of widgets and I think this will be a great addition to iOS, especially when third party developers start rolling theirs out.

App Library

At the end of you pages of apps (which can now be non-destructively hidden) is the App Library. Your phone will automatically organize every app on device. Three icons per category are determined based off use and then a fourth button opens the entire folder of apps in that category. You can even access an alphabetical list of all apps.

I enjoyed my time with this. I already organize my apps in this way with traditional folders, but having both an alphabetical list and these smart top three apps per category sounds great. I enjoyed my time using it, although I did hide my second app page, which caused a serious break in muscle memory. Once it becomes a daily OS, it will simply take time to adapt to these new features, if you so choose.

Messages

Pinning messages. Labeling group chats. In-line replies. Mentions. Emoji search. I cannot wait to use these features when everyone upgrades. Such great improvements.

macOS Big Sur

This is the one I’ve struggled with the most. It’s such a drastic, yet familiar change due to the iOS influence. I’ve been a Mac user for just over decade now. I’ve already pointed out that I am a habitual person. I like the aesthetic of Big Sur, but not on my MacBook Pro, if that makes sense. The app icons are off to me. Windows have a smeary translucency that makes it hard to see what is even selective. I’m very nervous about this one. I skipped macOS Catalina last year (my first time skipping an OS release) and I don’t know if I’ll be passing on Big Sur until I have to use it on an Apple Silicon based Mac.


There has been a ton of great coverage on WWDC this year. Podcasts out the wazoo (The Talk Show with John Gruber, Accidental Tech Podcast, Connected, Upgrade). Great reporting, blog posts, and videos. I had fun slowly whipping up my own quick impressions. I’m looking forward to all the exciting new developments that come from this year’s changes.

Ghost of Tsushima: Mastering the Katana – PlayStation.Blog

Ghost of Tsushima: Mastering the Katana by Chris Zimmerman, Sucker Punch Co-Founder

I know The Last of Us Part II just came out last weekend, but the next (and possibly final) major first party release for PS4 is roughly three weeks away. In fact, it just went gold yesterday. I am pumped for this open-world samurai game. It just looks so spot on.

Chris Zimmerman took to the PS Blog today to shed some light on the katana in combat and the studio’s design philosophy for it.

A lot of the design work we did on katana combat was dancing around these limits. There’s no problem with your attacks being fast, of course — the NPCs can react instantly if we want them too. We actually ran some experiments with NPCs having more realistic reaction times and it looked totally wrong. That’s probably because our ideas about how a sword fight looks are driven by watching movies, not real sword fights, and in a movie everyone knows the choreography ahead of time. (We actually watched real sword fights with blunted weapons during development, and they’re way sloppier than we wanted the game to be.)

The attention to detail and attempts to mirror the real world always strikes me as fascinating. The development team not only deemed it necessary to observe real sword fights, but actually made it happen. Sony funded this experiment and it directly lead to influencing gameplay and design. Sucker Punch also had a trip to Japan and worked closely with Studio Japan.

It would have been nice to have solved this before Hideo Kojima visited Sucker Punch and tried Ghost combat, since that was the first thing he tried. Sigh.

Kojima’s famous game studio world tour. Classic.

If you concentrate, if you stay focused, you’ll survive the fight. If you lose focus, you’ll die. We’re trying to put you in Jin Sakai’s footsteps; those are the rules he is forced to live by, and they apply equally to you.

I like this stance on applying the rules of the narrative and world to the player. It lends itself to fuller immersion. I’m eager to get my hands on the combat and learn how steep its curve is.

We work hard to make our animations fluid, to flow naturally between movements — but if forced to make a choice, responsiveness wins out over physical accuracy.

Even with all this dedication to realism, gameplay feel wins out the day. Striking a balance is necessary and must be a crazy challenge to actually find.

While I’m not done exploring what The Last of Us Part II has to offer (I started my survivor+ run) and I am working on my review for it, I am eagerly awaiting Ghost of Tsushima. It is a great time to be a PlayStation fan.

Apple Announces the Transition to ARM Apple Silicon for Mac

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During WWDC 2020, Apple officially (and finally) announced the transition of Mac hardware to their own developed chips. The ARM transition is officially called Apple Silicon.

All of the features are still rolling in, but the next era in Mac hardware and software is here. Apple says that the first consumer Mac with Apple Silicon will be released by the end of this year and expect the transition to take two years. Both Microsoft and Adobe already are working on bringing Office and the Creative Cloud to Apple Silicon. Apple also already has built Final Cut Pro X for Apple Silicon.

To help with the transition, Rosetta returns with Rosetta 2 to help convert and emulate software to run on the new chipset. There will also be virtualization support.

For developers, there is a Developer Transition Kit that is a Mac Mini outfitted with an A12Z Bionic chip, which currently resides inside the 2020 iPad Pro. The kit costs developers $500 and they start shipping out next week. The developer must return the computer at some point in the future as well. This will help them develop their software for Apple silicon before the first consumer Mac with these chips are released this year.

Crash 4: It’s About Time Revealed

Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time Trailer – YouTube

Toys for Bob appears to be nailing that nostalgia feel. There is still a place for these mascot platformers. I remember how much fun I had playing the Ratchet & Clank remake a few years ago and now there is a brand new Ratchet & Clank game in development for PS5. This new Crash game would be happening if not for the success of the remakes of the original trilogy, Crash Team Racing, and the Spyro trilogy remakes.

Min Min from ARMS Confirmed for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

The second wave of DLC fighters for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate has begun with Nintendo officially confirming that Min Min will be the fighter from ARMS. What would have likely been revealed three weeks ago was instead pre-recorded nearly two months ago from series creator Masahiro Sakurai’s home. 

As a fighter, Min Min looks fun with a unique emphasis on distance and spacing. I think the stage design is slick too, despite the fact it will likely never be tournament legal. Also, friendly reminder that the ARMS theme song slaps.

I personally still don’t even have all the original fighters unlocked, let alone the DLC. Whenever friends get together to play Smash, we always play someone else’s copy. Excited to see how people take to Min Min next week.

Returning to Shadow Moses: My Journey back through Metal Gear Solid

Last year I replayed Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes, Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, and Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots through March and April. I tweeted out my experience in some semblance of real time, but did a terrible job of threading. So I went back and rounded up all the tweets I could find and formatted their contents below for a more cohesive account of my journey.

For some slight context, I originally played these games early in high school (2009-2010) in a wacky order; 2, 3, 1, then 4. This was my first time playing the games in release order. It was also my first time ever seeing Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes in action. Enjoy!

Continue reading “Returning to Shadow Moses: My Journey back through Metal Gear Solid”

A Closer Look at Paper Mario: The Origami King – Nintendo

A Closer Look at Paper Mario: The Origami King – Nintendo Switch – YouTube

I am so torn on Paper Mario: The Origami King after this in-depth preview. Nintendo seems to be listening, but only partially. Companions are there, but appear generic and may not have a significant role in combat. Bosses are unfortunately directly inspired by Sticker Star and Color Splash. Combat looks intriguing: There is certainly a strategic element, but could be bloated. I wish Nintendo would ignore the paper craft element outside of visuals. The combat and narrative do not need to be directly influenced by paper.

Color me cautiously optimistic…