Microsoft at E3 and Beyond With Nintendo

Xbox-E3 2018 press conference briefingI’m Still Impressed by Microsoft at E3 2018

E3 is now long gone, it’s been weeks, an eternity in the games industry. Now, most fans are reflecting on the game announcements and release dates and biding their time. Somewhat strangely, I’m still lingering on Microsoft’s press conference. Especially since Nintendo and Microsoft released this:

Microsoft is trying to make the most of this flawed generation, but like the business veterans they are, they’re always focused on the long game. Teasing obvious new hardware and new studio acquisitions are significant, but what keeps me interested is the Xbox Game Pass. Even with how limited their first party offerings are, you get great value based on the $10/month price point. If I were any less into following the industry and the obscure games than I currently am, Game Pass would be my set it and forget it ticket to gaming.

I’m rarely playing the new hotness. I’m now getting around to The Witcher 3 and the years old Resident Evil 1 remake is up next. These are games that I picked out at least a year ago. The point here is that Game Pass’ aged inventory is almost a non-issue to me, and a ton of people like me. I would’ve been stoked when they announced the arrival of Fallout 4, I’m still excited to check out New Vegas after all.

Acquiring all of those new studios and committing their full effort to the Xbox platform is a big deal, but especially in regard to Xbox Game Pass. Playstation’s first party offerings are killing it, I still think about re-buying a PS4 to replay Bloodborne and God of War only makes it more tempting. Do I need to play through Bloodborne again? No. Is God of War worth a console purchase when I have a PC and a Switch already? Debatable. But they’re good enough to make you think about it. That is what every console maker wants and where Microsoft aims to be in the next few years with their new studios. Game Pass could make that come true with an outstanding value proposition.

Microsoft and Nintendo teaming up to promote Minecraft is crazy interesting. Yes, they’re partnering to capitalize on Playstation’s current bad press, but it’s still relatively unprecedented in the current landscape. Phil Spencer is regularly documented saying that he doesn’t care what device you play Minecraft on, he just cares that you play Minecraft. With Microsoft already teasing the next generation of hardware and the near inevitability of a sort of streaming option for Xbox Game Pass in the future, what’re the chances of me streaming Fallout 4 on Xbox Game Pass to my Nintendo Switch Pro in four years when I finally get around to playing it?

Crazier things have happened, maybe not in the games industry though. Let me know what you think of my farfetched ideas in the comments below and thanks for reading!

Update: Nintendo just announced a Minecraft edition New 2DS XL today! That has to be a good sign for third party relations.

The Pro Controller Got Me Into Splatoon 2

spaltoon 2 nintento switch pro controller 1

I pre-ordered Splatoon 2 given the great things I’d heard about the original game. Like so many, I never had a Wii U and missed out on it. I was into it for a bit. I played through the first few SplatFests and had a great time. It was nice to have a competitive “shooter” experience on my new console. I didn’t stick with it for long though. There was a ton coming out on the Switch and there was something that wasn’t hooking me into Splatoon.

It was the joy-cons.

Continue reading “The Pro Controller Got Me Into Splatoon 2”

Jotun – Catch Up Gaming

Jotun video game art 1
The first of many epic views of the world in Jotun

Jotun is a Gorgeous Exploration of Norse Legend

Jotun was announced and then later released in 2015 by Thunder Lotus Games, I only recently got around to pulling it from my backlog. I got the Valhalla Edition on Steam and played through it in time for its second anniversary. As you can see from the image above, Jotun’s most distinct feature is a beautiful, hand drawn art style. The game also features a wonderful balance of rich storytelling and challenging battles. Continue reading “Jotun – Catch Up Gaming”

My Journey to Get a Nintendo Switch

nintendo switch launch zelda

How I Managed to Get a New Nintendo

I felt pretty stupid trying as hard as I did to get a Nintendo Switch, that in and of itself says something about the new console and the company behind it.

My anticipation about Nintendo’s new console grew as it’s March 3rd release approached. Unfortunately, I was not stoked enough about the console to pre-order it in the few minutes it was available after their February presentation, which soon became an issue. I typically don’t pre-order anything. I’m get excited about new tech, but I’m not an early adopter. I skipped the Wii U though, and my Wii has been neglected for years, so I was excited about Nintendo’s next move.

Continue reading “My Journey to Get a Nintendo Switch”

Nintendo Switch Updated Thoughts

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Rumor has it that the new Mario is the bundled game…

Games, Specs, and Switch Speculation

The Nintendo Switch has been all over news outlets since its unveiling, and for good reason. It’s not that often that a completely new console is released, especially after all of the speculation around its reveal.  New console releases could be even more rare in the future as Microsoft and Sony focus on iterative console upgrades. Here’s a wrap up of the most important rumors that have come out since its unveiling and some of my thoughts on Nintendo’s future console.

There were rumors swirling for months about some of the best games on the Wii U being ported to the Switch to give it a ton of must have games in the first few months out of the gate. From the reveal trailer, and some other rumors that have spread since, that seems to be the case. There is hearsay everywhere about the first 6 months of the Nintendo Switch release being loaded with releases, most of which seem to be first party.

Although Nintendo has since confirmed that the video on the trailer is simulated, that could safely be assumed anyway, there’s a decent chance that Nintendo wants all of those titles to be released on the Switch eventually. To make the deal even sweeter, both Mario Kart and Splatoon featured elements in the trailer that are not included in the Wii U versions. It seems that we’re looking at enhanced versions of the best the Wii U had to offer on the Nintendo Switch.

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Publishing partners for the Nintendo Switch

Specifics About the Switch’s Screen and Dock

There’s been a ton of speculation, the biggest being about the screen and the dock. It has been well substantiated that the screen is in fact a touch screen, has 720p resolution, and seems to be the same size as the Wii U gamepad’s at 6.2″. The reveal trailer hints that the company doesn’t want their device to be categorized with other tablets and mobile gaming, as they didn’t show off the touch screen at all. Nintendo has also come out and directly stated that the dock does not house any additional processing power. It remains a mystery as far as the output resolution between the 720p device screen and a likely higher resolution tv screen.  It could still upscale the image from the Switch tablet to a more suitable size for a tv screen. This basically eliminates the possibility of true 4K gaming on the Switch, it’s a good thing I don’t give a shit because…

Nintendo has Always Done More with Less

Nintendo has never been about the hardware. Despite the fact that their hardware has been considered underpowered for generations, they still kick out some of the best looking and smoothest running console games because they are so well optimized. I’m not hardcore about resolution or framerates, and it’s unrealistic to expect mind blowing graphics from a mobile device like the Switch, but I’m confident the games will look damn good. There are some serious lookers on the Wii U, and the Switch will almost certainly be a graphical upgrade from that. I’m a PC gamer, but my PC is a small form factor box that barely outpaces the current consoles and I’m more than happy with how my games look and run.

I love it. I got to play it. I will tell you – well, maybe that’s an N.D.A. thing. One of the best demos I’ve ever seen. Probably the best demo I’ve ever seen. At E3.

There is definitely a lot of hype around the console, but there are people who are critical of the idea as well. Can the Switch be great at any one thing if it is trying to do some many drastically different functions? There are obvious concerns about battery life along with the power of a portable console, and there isn’t too much hard evidence on the matter. One thing that just came out is that Bethesda’s Todd Howard is a fan, stating in an interview with Glixel, “I love it. I got to play it. I will tell you – well, maybe that’s an N.D.A. thing. One of the best demos I’ve ever seen. Probably the best demo I’ve ever seen. At E3.”

I think it’s pretty telling that, despite the brief mention of the Switch, it’s still the first topic noted tin the title. Theirs is a lot of excitement brewing and I cannot wait to learn more.

Obligatory Nintendo Switch Post

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Today has been an exciting day for gamers. It began with the official reveal of the codename “Nintendo NX” as the Switch and then continued with the reveal trailer for Red Dead Redemption 2. Let’s take a closer look at the Nintendo Switch.

First of all, you’ll quickly discover that I’m pretty excited about their new console, its exactly the type of concept I was hoping for with all of the leaked information and will get me back to playing some Nintendo games.  The Switch is a modular gaming console intended to function both as a home console and as a portable console for gaming the go, all with the same performance and game library. Because of Nintendo’s unique approach to this console, just about every feature is unique to the Switch.

The form factor is a tablet like device in its most basic form. That is where the relate able features end though. It seems like the tablet’s screen is not touch sensitive from the reveal trailer as they show no one using touch inputs, so that makes it different from anything in the tablet space. The way that you interact with it is through the Nintendo Switch’s unique controllers. Firstly, the controllers, pictured above, are not tradition in any way, but can be attached to a sort of grip secondary device to form a more tradition gamepad with a layout not too far from a Xbox One gamepad, albeit with a significant square frame in the middle. This is the home console controller for when you have the device hooked up to the big screen.

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You can then remove the 2 input sections from the grip and attach them to the sides of the tablet to make it an all in one device. This is where the portable aspects of the console come in. While on the go, you can also use a kickstand on the tablet to set it up on any flat surface and then detach the controllers so you can sit back and play. Here they look a bit like the Wii-mote and nunchaku without a cord attaching them to each other. A great aspect along with this is that the controllers seem to be identical, and when using them you simply hold one upside down so one controller favors buttons and the other a joystick, just like when they’re attached to the tablet or controller grip. But, because they’re identical, you can also hand one over to a friend and play together, as demoed with the new Mario Kart.

When you want to play at home, there’s a docking station that you just hook the tablet into to switch the video to your tv. It seems like gameplay seamlessly can be continued after docking it or after removing it from the dock. From there, you  can either take the detachable controllers off to play with them standalone or attach them to the controller grip. If you want a more traditional gamepad, there’s also a home controller that looks just like the old Xbox 360 controller. Nintendo has stated that the games will all preform identically whether you’re playing on the tablet or on your TV, but haven’t released anything about the display resolution of the tablet’s screen.

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The reveal trailer also showed off a ton of software, likely due to the post launch woes of the Wii U. The games displayed featured some of Nintendo’s heaviest hitters like Splatoon, Mario Kart and of course Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, but they also prominently display the Elder Scrolls: Skyrim. This is Nintendo speaking to consumers who are worried about 3rd party support. To further show developer support, they also showed a group playing EA’s NBA 2k16 (probably) with 4 players across two consoles that were linked wirelessly. I’m huge on couch co-op, but its often neglected in favor of online multiplayer in the current gaming environment, so it’s nice to see that it’s still a focus at Nintendo. Although, requiring 2 consoles to play 4 player local is an interesting move.

That brings me to my next point. Nintendo hasn’t given us any details outside of the release date listed at the end of the video. The video of 4 players playing with 2 consoles gives me the idea that it will be rather affordable though. Nintendo usually focuses on making their hardware approachable price-wise  and this seems like it will follow that trend, although it looks to be a more premium device than either the Wii or Wii U as far as build quality. It might not require 2 consoles for 4-player action, they might’ve just been showing off the portable multiplayer functionality though. If the modular do-anything nature of the device is any hint though, we’ll probably have a ton of options with the Nintendo Switch.

The last thing that really sticks out is that there were no kids in the trailer. Everyone showed playing the console is a young professional looking person, likely the crowd that grew up with the original Nintendo. They’re banking on nostalgia, just like with the upcoming NES Classic, and I have no problem with that.

All Images and Video courtesy of Nintendo

Destiny 2 on the PC Sounds Great

destiny 2 rumors for pc

The Struggles of a Controller Enthusiast and PC Shooters

Some information came out about Destiny 2, most importantly the fact that it’s likely to be released on the PC this time around. This is kind of a big deal for me. I sold my consoles and made the switch to a PC in my living room with a Xbox controller not too long ago and I’ve loved it so far. The only regret I have is in the area of first person shooters.

I love competitive first  person shooters, but my current setup locks me into playing all of my games with a Xbox 360 gamepad. Back on the 360, I was a pretty competitively skilled player in Call of Duty and the like. I can’t say the same anymore. Besides the fact that I’ve had less time to play, playing with a gamepad is technically inferior to a mouse and keyboard. I’ve tried my best with Overwatch and Black Ops 3, but you can feel that the controls are less precise than the competition. Since giving Overwatch the old college try, the idea of getting a console just for competitive shooters has been in the back of my mind. The idea just won’t go away.

Destiny raid co-op gameplay

Destiny’s Co-Op Seems Controller Friendly

Destiny 2 has given me a chance to save some cash. Destiny is known to be a finely honed shooter experience that is also, for the most part, not a competitive player vs. player experience. With this news, I’m hoping to scratch my shooter itch with some of the cooperative Destiny 2 action, with a little team death match mixed in for good measure. Unlike the majority of shooters, the focus of Destiny is the cooperative mode and not the cutthroat competitive multiplayer that my controller handicaps me at.

Controllers on PC and Steam Big Picture

It seems like the amount of players that use a controller on the PC and Steam is growing. Almost every newish game that I’m interested in has controller support, and hopefully the issue will be addressed at some time. I’ve heard rumors of games adding matchmaking that takes the type of input players are using into account and makes games from either all controllers or all mouse and keyboard, but I haven’t seen any examples of it actually happening yet.

This is such a first world problem, but I’m still hopeful that I’ll be able to use my more powerful PC and controller to play the shooters I miss so much sometime. Most specifically, I’m psyched for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered, whenever they decide to start selling it outside of a bundle that is.

Then again, a game like this emerging on a new platform could be bad for some people…

Images courtesy of Bungie