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.

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.

“Thoughts on The Prey Demo” by Carter McDaniel

 

Upon learning that Arkane was developing a new Sci-Fi title, I was immediately interested. Dishonored was my favorite game when it came out in 2012 and is still to this day my favorite single player game. Arkane’s new title Prey while having nothing to do with its predecessor bearing the same name, distinguishes itself with immersive gameplay and a gripping story. I recently had the opportunity to play the first hour of prey as Arkane released the demo to the PlayStation and Xbox stores. The game takes place aboard a space station called Talos 1 which has a very Dead Space feel to it. As for the gameplay mechanics, it brings back what I love about Dishonored, while creating its own identity. Prey presents numerous choices in how to approach every situation. Even though the demo is only supposed to represent the first hour of Prey, I found myself spending far more than that exploring every nook and cranny, finding crafting components, weapons, new enemies to fight, and ways to get around them. While the level of exploration felt very much like Dishonored, Prey sets itself apart by presenting itself less as a stealth game and more like a horror game. The audio cues are very similar of that of Dead Space and the environment bears the same haunting emptiness as Bioshock. The most common embodiment of this horror is the mimic; spider-like alien creatures that can take the form of any object in the game. From a coffee mug, to a table, to a chair to a locker. Any object you walk past could be waiting to kill you. While not available in the demo, later in the game, it is possible for you to take this ability and use it however you see fit, be it turning into a cup to sneak past enemies or turning into a fully operational turret to mow them down. In Prey, you gain new skills by using neuro-mods, devices that directly install new abilities into your brain via a needle to the eye. The demo has a fairly limited selection of these neuro mods since it was restricted to such a small area of the game. The mods that were obtainable include the ability to repair items, the ability to lift heavy objects, or the ability to wield a weapon more effectively. Later in the game you can find alien neuro mods to copy the abilities of nearly any enemy alien you meet.
Spoilers ahead
I didn’t expect Preys story to grab me like it did. While I love Dishonored, I never felt it had a particularly incredible story line. The fact that Prey opens with a twist akin to that of the “would you kindly?” moment from Bioshock had me immediately sold. The game starts with your character, Morgan Yu, waking up in his apartment on his first day at his new job. Morgan puts on his suit, walks outside and greets the maintenance man before taking the elevator to the roof of his apartment building and flying a helicopter to his new job. Upon reaching his new job he meets his brother, Alex, who informs in that there are some first qualifying test before he can begin. Alex warns Morgan that the tests are unconventional in nature. The first test involved Morgan moving boxes out of a circular area as quickly as he could. The second test had Morgan attempt to hide in the room, the only option being to duck behind a chair. And the third test had Morgan cross a room as quickly as possible. The entire time these tests were going on I was confused as to how Arkane could justify shoehorning in such an awkward and out-of-place tutorial. During the tests, however, the scientists comment things like “are you sure you did that right?”, and “no something’s not right here.” Before the final test which is simply answering a few questions to gauge Morgan’s personality. During this test Morgan looks up and sees a scientist drinking coffee. The scientist looks into the cup and says “wait, this is empty. Is this my co-.” before the cup turns into a mimic and kills him in a most gruesome fashion. The room you’re in is filled with gas and Morgan wakes up the next morning… or rather the same Morning. The alarm mentions the same date says he reporting to his first day on the job and that he has to be there by 9 a.m. just like the morning before. Only this time when Morgan stepped outside his apartment he’s greeted by a horribly mutilated maintenance man. Morgan then gets a call saying he needs to get out of his apartment. Naturally I went to the elevator that I went to the first time I played through the scene except the elevator was no longer there, so I went back to Morgan’s apartment and looked for something I could use to escape. I found a wrench, and started looking for something to hit with this Morgan’s apartment has a balcony closed off by a glass sliding door and, since I didn’t know how to open the door I hit it with a wrench. That moment is something I will never forget my gaming career. When the glass shattered, I wasn’t looking out over a balcony but rather a room. A lab of some kind. as I explored more, I found a simulation helicopter rig. I flipped a switch that made it look like my ride over to the job on the first day, and I found a lobby where it looked like my testing had begun. Someone had been keeping Morgan like a lab rat resetting his memory at the end of every day. I never learned why in the demo, but for some reason Morgan’s brother Alex is behind the memory wipe and daily testing. I hope the full game lives up to the expectation it set by opening with such a dramatic twist. For now with my interest thoroughly piqued, I’ll wait with bated breath for the full launch of Arkane’s Prey.

Thoughts on Overwatch : Uprising

When I started Fandom Correspondents as an actual site, my hope was that I could pull together writers that would be a fresh voice on the varying subjects of fandom. I have recently found another one of these voices and I am proud to present his first article for you here.

Like Megan King before him, Carter McDaniel is joining us as a guest writer. Having previously written for PlayStation Insider, Carter’s primary fandom is Video Games and he chose to write about one of the best games out right now.

With its anniversary just around the corner, Overwatch surprised fans with an event not at all tied to a real world event, but rather a significant occurrence within its own world. Following the success of Overwatch’s first PvE event, Junkenstein’s Revenge, it’s no surprise that Blizzard would eventually retread that path. What is surprising is the sheer amount of lore that the new update adds to the game. Any Overwatch fan will tell you that it is a game built on an expertly crafted world consisting of complex characters, significant history, and fascinating events. Overwatch’s Insurrection update brings an unprecedented amount of that history from the comics and animated shorts into the game itself. The crux of the insurrection update is the new arcade mode, Uprising, which relives Tracer’s first mission as an Overwatch cadet. She, along with Mercy, Reinhardt, and Torbjorn are sent by Commander Morrison (aka Soldier 76) to quell a rogue omnic uprising in King’s Row. The uprising mission is a more well-rounded version of Junkenstein’s PvE experience, as it features more elements from the Overwatch’s core game such as capturing a point as well as escorting a payload. Along with this game mode, Blizzard also released a variant mode where you can play as any hero on this mission, as well as a plethora of new skins, sprays, and other unlockable items. The skins released within the event, while not necessarily the most visually stunning we’ve seen, are exciting in their own right, as each of them are steeped in the history of Overwatch’s fantastic world. We get to see a somehow even more bushy-tailed and bright eyed Tracer, as well as a younger, although just as proud Torbjorn. The Blackwatch skins for Genji and McCree give us a glimpse at what life looked like on the grittier, and far less glamourized side of Overwatch (Also, Genji had foot blades during that time, and I’m going to choose to believe it was because he misunderstood McCree’s explanation of spurs.) Of course, I would be remiss not to mention some of the changes to the existing game within the Insurrection update. A capture tracking system has been added to competitive play with the intention of breaking ties and having fewer draws, but only time will tell if this is a fair or even effective measure. A new route has been added on Eichenwalde to make pushing through the first choke point a bit easier for attackers. This change should certainly improve balance and quality of play on the map leading to more fun and interesting strategies. The most exciting permanent change would be Lucio 2.0. Now armed with faster wall riding, more healing, increased damage, and a faster shot speed; this Lucio is an incredibly survivable frontline support powerhouse to be reckoned with. With all these changes, however, there is a catch as Jeff giveth and he taketh away. Lucio’s healing and speed aura are a third of wat they once were, having been reduced from 30 meters to 10 meters. All these changes come together to create a much more active and fun Lucio, while still keeping him viable.
Overall the Insurrection update is a fantastic change for Overwatch. The unlockables are amazing, the story is rich, and the Uprising mode itself is unbelievably fun. My only qualm comes from knowing that as of right now, this is a limited time event, meaning that soon this wonderful PvE mode will be gone. Even if it does leave, I trust that Jeff (praise be) and the rest of the Overwatch team can see how much the community loves this game mode, and will give us a permanent PvE replacement soon