Why Sony’s Crossplay Stance is Unacceptable

Recently it was announced that Rocket League and Minecraft would soon be cross-play compatible between the PC, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch. It’s not terribly surprising that Sony was left out of this conversation seeing as the Playstation is currently the world’s best selling console and there’s really no gain to be had in including players who don’t have it. While this reasoning is disappointing and a little unsatisfactory, it makes sense. Why would Sony, who is winning the console sales race by a mile, slow down game production to invest an unknown amount of time and money into making their console only slightly more appealing to an only slightly larger demographic? Had that been the reasoning given, we would’ve been upset, but the actual reasoning as given to the public is truly unacceptable and detrimental to the gaming community as a whole. Wesley Yin-Pool of Eurogamer recently interviewed Sony marketing head, Jim Ryan, in order to get to the bottom of Sony’s self-imposed isolation. The following paragraph is an exert from the interview explaining Sony’s stance on the matter:

Yeah. We’ve got to be mindful of our responsibility to our install base. Minecraft – the demographic playing that, you know as well as I do, it’s all ages but it’s also very young. We have a contract with the people who go online with us, that we look after them and they are within the PlayStation curated universe. Exposing what in many cases are children to external influences we have no ability to manage or look after, it’s something we have to think about very carefully.

So there you have it. Sony believes cross-platform play to be a potentially dangerous idea. We essentially got a businessed-up version of “Think of the children!” And from this statement, there are two assumptions that can be made. The first is Sony believes their community to be of a higher caliber than that of the other consoles. I guess they can’t see all the toxic players I’ve reported from way up on their high horse. The second assumption is that Sony believes Nintendo and Microsoft to be incapable of managing their own communities. Sony believes the company that invented the umpty-seven digit long “friend code”, a long code required to add friends and message players, put into place to prevent kids from being harassed online, cannot manage its own community.

Even if Sony doesn’t feel this way, and this whole statement was cooked up to make them look more sympathetic for making a smart business move, these comments can easily be read as incredibly stuck up and will damage the community. The gaming community is already fractured with terms like “console war” and “fanboy” thrown out regularly, and Sony blocking cross-play, preventing that unification, and doing so in such a seemingly pretentious manner will only widen that rift. Perhaps someday Sony will change their mind and instead of being Playstation players or Xbox players, we can all just be gamers.

Super Mario Odyssey Impressions

It’s been seven years since the release of Super Mario Galaxy 2. In that seven years we haven’t gotten another large scale 3D Mario game, so super Mario Odyssey has a lot to live up to. Fortunately for us, It seems Odyssey will not only live up to, but exceed all expectations. As the title implies, Odyssey will take players on a globe-trotting adventure across various environments and challenges. The environments showcased appeared as diverse as they were exciting. As interesting as the various settings are, it was Cappy that stole the show for me. Cappy serves as Mario’s new hat and travel companion. Much like Luma in the galaxy series, Cappy comes with a slew of new mechanics that will make Odyssey a truly unique experience. You’d never imagine that there would be so many uses for throwing a hat. When you throw Cappy, you can have him hover in front of you for a time, so should you need an extra jump to cross a gap, throw Cappy and use him as a little extra bounce. Of course, along with his navigational abilities, Cappy can be used offensively. When thrown, Cappy has limited homing abilities so he can find enemies within his range, but things really get interesting. One of two things can happen when Cappy hits an enemy. The first is obvious. The enemy explodes into a poof of coins or other collectibles. The second possibility is much stranger. Upon Cappy making contact with an enemy, NPC or even certain inanimate objects, Mario can choose to possess whatever was hit. Possessing a bullet bill allows you to fly as they can. Possessing a power line turns you into electrcity for faster traversal. according to Kenta Motokura, the game’s creative director, theres a wide variety of subjects to possess and ways to use them. Even more exciting than the seemingly limitless possibilities that Super Mario Odyssey provides, is knowing that it’s currently slated for an October 2017 release. Between that and Mario Rabbids Kingdom Battle, fall 2017 is a good time to be a Switch owner.

Overwatch May be Dropping a New Hero Next Week

Yesterday it was confirmed that the Horizon Lunar Colony Overwatch map would go live on Tuesday, June 20, but according to some fans, that’s not all that will be dropping. The speculation began in one of Jeff Kaplan’s Developer updates where he told the Overwatch community that there was new hero news “on the horizon.” Just a figure of speech? Perhaps. But more than likely, he was literally referring to the Horizon Lunar colony, and since its been live on the PTR, the Overwatch crew has been dropping hint after hint. The first hint was in a map of the colony tweeted out by the Overwatch official twitter page. The map showed a list of names and numbers of the various test subjects on the base, all of which were accounted for except for two. The first of these is Winston, everyone’s favorite monkey scientist tank. The second however is an unfamiliar name: Hammond. According emails posted to Atlas News, the fictional news outlet that Blizzard uses to introduce lore and drop hints of future content, Hammond may still be on the base. Of the emails published, there are two that strike me as relevant to our new hero. The first’s subject line reads “Ventilation System Inspection” and refers to strange sounds coming from the ventilation shafts. The second has a subject line that reads “Have You Seen Me?” Sent by Dr. Zhang, this email mentions that Hammond was gone from his cage and seemingly no one knew where he went. There are two details that can be gleamed from the second email. The first is that Hammond went missing at least a week before the apes went nuts and killed the scientists. The second, and most important detail is that he is smaller than a gorilla. In the second have of the email, Dr. Zhang laments about having a smaller test subject than the rest of the gorillas. So we’re left to speculate what Hammond may be. The most obvious and logical answer is that Hammond is a chimp. It would make sense for scientists testing gene therapies to use chimps as well as gorillas in their experiments. A chimp would also be considerably smaller than a gorilla. Perhaps even small enough to fit in ventilation shafts without much trouble. My personal hope is a little bit stranger. In a recent AMA on reddit, Jeff Kaplan was asked about heroes that were drafted but didn’t quite make it into the game. In his response he mentions a cat with a jetpack that the team ultimately decided was too “out there” for the game. Now, I for one would love a jetpack cat, and I wouldn’t see it as any stranger than a hyper-intelligent gorilla or a robotic monk, but I digress. As much as I hope for the rise of Jetpack Cat, Hammond is more than likely a chimp. A chimp that, if a recent 4chan leak is accurate, will serve as a utility based support with the ability to erect various shaped barriers by deploying anchor points around the map. We won’t know for sure until he launches, but if Jeff’s hint is any indicator, I imagine that at the very least we’ll get an official announcement, if not a PTR launch next Tuesday.

Mario Rabbids Kingdom Battle and its Huge Implications

Like most gamers, I’m sure when you think of quality entertainment, one name comes to mind: Rabbids. Or at least it may after this August. Mario Rabbids Kingdom Battle is my favorite new game announced this year. Developed by Ubisoft, MRKB sports some seriously intriguing RPG combat. Each of the eight playable characters brings his/her own powers, weapons, and abilities to the table. Combat is turn based and combat zones are marked off by flags so you know when a battle is about to begin. Some of the strategies showcased during the demo included destroying cover to reveal enemies, using teammates to boost your movement during your turn, and employing special character abilities to gain an edge over your opponents. It seems almost like X-COM meets Worms, which is a combo I am more than ok with. The most exciting thing about this game though, is not the game itself, but rather the implications that come with it. I mentioned earlier that this game was developed by Ubisoft, which is an unprecedented level of cooperation on Nintendo’s part. It isn’t unheard of for Nintendo to collaborate with third party studios. The most notable example of this collaboration is the Smash Bros series, on which, Nintendo has collaborated with Namco, Sega, and even Konami. What makes MRKB so unique us that this is the first game bearing the Mario name that Nintendo allowed another studio to develop in its entirety. Nintendo is historically stingy with their characters, and who can blame them after the development of productions like the Super Mario movie and TV show. Nintendo opening up and allowing other developers access to their characters could be exactly what they need to freshen up their games. For instance, earlier today Metroid Prime 4 was announced and that is a game that could benefit from the creative vision of a new studio. Personally I’m pulling for Visceral, a studio best known for their work on the Dead Space series, to try their hand at a Metroid title. Whoever is developing the new Metroid, the future of Nintendo collaborations rests heavily on the success of Mario Rabbids Kingdom Battle.

Sony’s E3 Letdown

Sony’s 2016 E3 press conference was an amazing experience. The announcements of a new God of War, a new Spider-Man, and Hideo Kojima’s first project apart from Konami were huge. Unfortunately, it would seem those announcements were premature. Not only did Sony fail to announce anything close to the scale of last year’s games, we’ll have to wait nearly another year before we actually get to play any of those big games that made us so excited last year. Sony announced very few new IPs and those that they did announce were either PSVR exclusive titles or were underwhelming in their presentation. Why so much time was dedicated to the PSVR, a device that only a fraction of Playstation owners have, is beyond me, but don’t think I’m not excited for Sony’s support of PSVR. I’d much rather the headset stick around long enough to spawn future iterations than to be stranded on Vita island, but if your coup de grace is going to be gameplay for a game we’ve already seen, followed by an announcement that it isn’t coming out until next year, maybe you ought to spend a little more time on something that the majority of fans can look forward to. The only game with a confirmed release date that isn’t small, a remake, or an expansion that we have to look forward to this year is Days Gone. Days Gone looks good, and maybe I’m being a little nitpicky since Horizon has already cemented itself as Sony’s 2017 flagship game, but why announce games like God of War, and Spider-Man, show gameplay, and not release them for another two years? I think the root of the problem is the leak epidemic in the gaming industry. It’s almost impossible to keep a secret anymore, and thanks to social media, once it’s out, it’s out everywhere. I suppose in a way, I can’t blame Sony for showing all their cards last year. If they hadn’t, it’s probable that someone would have shown them for Sony, and robbed them of what was a truly an incredible conference. From a marketing standpoint, they made the right call last year. No one who knows anything about the industry wasn’t expecting Death Stranding this year, so that doesn’t sting as bad as the others, but I’m left wondering why Sony really needed to go on stage this year. Skyrim VR and Shadow of the Colossus HD, are cool, but where is TLOU2? What happened to Sucker Punch? Why did Sony leave its biggest franchises out to dry without announcing any new ideas? it looks like Sony is done this year, but 2018 looks like a good year to be a Playstation owner.

Thoughts on The Death of the Outsider Announcement

**Minor spoilers for Dishonored to follow**

Anyone who has talked to me for more than ten minutes surely knows of my love for Dishonored. So when I heard that there was an expansion coming to Dishonored 2, I was over the moon. The Expansion, dubbed Death of the Outsider will center around a powered up Billie Lurk trying to do exactly what the title would expect, kill the outsider. The trailer for Death of the Outsider shows Billie Lurk sneaking into a rundown building before taking out a few thugs. Her methods to eliminate the thugs are what really piqued my interest. For anyone not familiar with the universe of Dishonored, the Outsider is the source of all supernatural abilities in the game, meaning that should someone with those abilities target him, he could just as easily take them away. So, to counter this, it would seem that Billie has no supernatural powers but rather cybernetic enhancements that give her a new power set. In the trailer we see her use an electrified sword, a sort of stun pulse, and it’s implied that she can see through walls with her new eye. After eliminating the thugs, she opens a door to Daud, a well-known character to those familiar to the series, and this is where I’m left somewhat disappointed. Let me explain: The backbone of Dishonored’s gameplay is player choice. You choose how to complete your missions; what paths you will take; and most importantly, who lives and who dies. In the first Dishonored you had the choice to either kill or spare Daud. Should you spare him, he promises to quit his life as an assassin and move somewhere far away, never to be seen again. So, In Dishonored 2 when Billie says “No one has seen or heard from Daud for years.” It could apply to either choice, meaning your choices are validated. Now that we know Daud is alive, we are essentially being told that there was a right and wrong choice, that if you chose to kill Daud and take revenge for the empress then you were wrong. I admit there may be another, less concrete explanation. The world of Dishonored is one filled with magic and mysticism after all. Perhaps Daud was brought there by the Outsider whose reach stretches beyond the boundaries of life and death, and could thereby be alive regardless of your choice. I hope this is the case because if not and Daud is simply alive, Arkane has effectively taken the power out of the players’ hands.