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Tuesday, 17 November 2020

PS5/PS4 Cross-Gen First Party Games Will Be "Built From The Ground Up" For PS5 Features – Jim Ryan

Horizon Forbidden West

It was something of a shock when it was announced that Horizon Forbidden West and Sackboy: A Big Adventure would be cross-gen titles releasing on both PS4 and PS5. Before that the games had only been revealed in the context of PS5 releases, and Sony seemed to be leaning into believing the idea of console generations in the traditional sense. The tone has changed on that, as it's now been said to expect some degree of cross-generational development for the next 3 years. Those who are primed and ready for this generation aren't too happy about that, and well, Jim Ryan has some reassurance for that, maybe.

In an interview with The Telegraph, the PlayStation CEO was asked about concerns of cross-gen development 'holding back' PS5 titles. He dismissed the idea, and said that first party titles will be apparently built from the ground up for the PS5 experience, and that he didn't see an issue with having a PS4 version of titles for the significant userbase that still exists for that console.

"The first thing to say is that our PS5 experiences or versions of these games are built from the ground up to take advantage of the PS5 feature set," Ryan said. "So I think offering a PS5 version of these games for the PS5 community and then a PS4 version of these games to the PS4 community, I don't see what's wrong with that."

Of course, it's not really clear what exactly he means there, and odds are it's intentionally vague enough to where you can read what you want. Obviously, if you have to release a game on two generation of consoles, it'll have an impact on how you develop that title, but presumably Ryan means that the first party studios will still aim to make PS5 features a big part of that version of game, such as DualSense, 3D Audio and the enhanced loading times. We won't really see the end result until we get there, however, and the current crop of cross-gen titles that launched alongside the PS5 seem to mostly be fine. Either way, like it or hate, cross-gen is going to be here to stay for a good while on both consoles.


Next Mass Effect Teased With New Artwork

mass effect 1

After a long time on the shelf, it was announced that the Mass Effect trilogy would be returning with the Legendary Edition, a remastered collection of all three titles. You can read all about that through here. But that wasn't the only bit of good news for fans of the series, it was also confirmed that a new game in the franchise was being worked on. We know nothing about it at this point, but today we got some pretty nice art to look at.

A recently released book, BioWare: Stories and Secrets from 25 Years of Game Development, showed some concept art that teases the next game. Those photos were uploaded to Tumblr by a fan, and you can see them below. There's really not much here, and since this is all concept art, it may be completely meaningless, but you know, it's possible these were put in the book under 'a look at the new Mass Effect' for a reason. Speculate away and hope we don't have to wait 5 years or so to see something more substantial.

As of now there is no time frame or even official title for the next Mass Effect. Mass Effect: Legendary Edition, however, is slated to launch in Spring 2021 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC with the console versions also playable on the PS5 and Xbox Series X/S, respectively.

Mass Effect future 3 Mass Effect future 2 Mass Effect future

PS5 Storage Space Should "Be Fine," Says Jim Ryan

PS5 Logo

The PS5 launched in certain regions at the end of last week (and will launch at the end of this week everywhere else), and it seems the general thought is that it's a pretty solid machine. There's a lot to like about it, but one thing some still aren't too hot on is the actual amount of storage it has. If you're not aware, the system comes with a custom SSD that is 825 GB, with only about 664 GB usable. Considering the ballooning size of games, as well as the continued firmware updates the console will get, we really aren't looking at too much. However, Jim Ryan isn't stressing.

In an interview with The Telegraph, the PlayStation CEO was asked about if he was worried about the amount of space of the PS5. He said that he wasn't, and that they had been monitoring what people have been doing on the system, and he just thinks that the data is telling them that there really isn't any real issue with what is there and that it should be "fine."

"We'll obviously watch what happens as people unbox their PlayStations and start to use them. We think we'll be okay. We obviously are able to monitor hard drive usage on the PS4 microscopically and everything that we saw there indicates that we should be fine."

Of course, it's not as if Ryan is going to bemoan the amount of storage of the system they just launched, but his reasoning seems to echo Microsoft's about the Xbox Series S, which only has about 364 GB of usable storage. A lot of people only play a few games on a continuous basis, with many only getting an annual sports title or Call of Duty and just delete last year's entry. So, in that way, I imagine Ryan isn't wrong. The main issue is for those who play a lot of games and frequently, and well, it seems for now we are kind of stuck with what we got.


Cyberpunk 2077 – PlayStation Gameplay Footage Is Also Planned

Cyberpunk 2077_08

Cyberpunk 2077 is almost here (maybe?), and earlier today we got the surprise drop of some footage on both the Xbox One X as well as the Xbox Series X, which you can see in full through here. There's been questions swirling around about just how well current generation consoles will handle what is looking to be a pretty technically demanding game, and well, you can watch that footage and see what you think. You'll also be getting some footage of the other console version soon.

Developer CD Projekt RED sent out a press release that said that gameplay footage for the PlayStation version of the game will be coming and will be revealed at some point in the future from official channels. If it's anything like what we got to today, it'll be the game running on PS4 Pro and PS5, and will probably be dropped on short notice.

Cyberpunk 2077 will release on December 10th for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC and Stadia. While there will be no native PS5 and Xbox Series X/S versions at launch, PS4 and Xbox One copies will be fully playable with an upgrade patch for both. It's also been confirmed that the game will ship on two discs, at least on the PS4. Night City Wire episode 5 will drop on November 19th.


Assassin's Creed Valhalla Sets First Week Launch Sales Record for Series

Assassin's Creed Valhalla

Ubisoft's Assassin's Creed Valhalla has been setting some big records for the company. Its first week launch sales were higher than any other title in the series during the same period. It's now the biggest Assassin's Creed launch in the franchise's history.

Ubisoft also confirmed that it was the top-most selling Ubisoft PC launch, resulting in all-time record sales on the Ubisoft Store. In a press release, producer Julien Laferriere stated that, "We are truly delighted by the enthusiastic response from players and want to thank the fans for their incredible support. Delivering this game amid a global pandemic was a true tour de force by our teams and it's fantastic to see players enjoying the game so much. Launch is only the beginning and we have robust content plans for Assassin's Creed Valhalla that will keep players immersed in their epic Viking saga for a long time to come."

A couple of interesting stats from players were also revealed, like how they had travel over four million kilometers till now. Over 55 million buildings had been unlocked in the settlement while over 3.5 million games of Orlog were won thus far. In terms of sales numbers, it's still too early for the majority of outlets. But it debuted strong in the UK with first week physical sales putting it above the launch of Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War, which is genuinely unheard of.

Assassin's Creed Valhalla is out now for Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PS4, PS5, Google Stadia and PC.


Immortals Fenyx Rising Season Pass Revealed, Contains Three Expansions

immortals fenyx rising

Ubisoft's Immortals Fenyx Rising is still a few weeks off from release, having gone gold recently. And like many Ubisoft titles, it has a Season Pass which features three expansions. Free content is also included in the game's post-launch plans, including cosmetics, vault challenges, daily and weekly quests, and so on.

The first is called "A New God" and sees Fenyx taking on a new set of trials on Oympos. New types of puzzles await and one's powers become stronger en route to proving themselves to the gods en route to a battle with Zeus. The second expansion is "Myths of the Eastern Realm" and follows Chinese mythology as Ku fights to stop the war between Heaven and Earth. New monsters, a new story and new gods to fight for are included.

Finally, there's "The Lost Gods" where Fenyx employs Ash, a young temple sweeper who travels to the Pyrite Isles to convince the Lost Gods to rejoin the Pantheon. This expansion takes place from an isometric view and features a new upgrade system and new abilities for Ash. Immortals Fenyx Rising releases on December 3rd for Xbox One, PS4, PS5, Xbox Series X/S, Nintendo Switch, Google Stadia, Xbox One and PC.


Mortal Kombat 11 Ultimate is Now Available for All Platforms

Mortal Kombat 11 - Mileena

NetherRealm's Mortal Kombat 11 Ultimate is finally here. It packs the base game, Kombat Pack 1, the Aftermath expansion and the new Kombat Pack 2 which adds Rain, Mileena and Rambo to the game (along with their own unique skins, Fatalities and so on). Check out the launch trailer below for all the bloody highlights.

Along with releasing on previous-gen platforms, Mortal Kombat 11 Ultimate marks the series' debut on Xbox Series X/S and PS5. These versions offer improved visuals and run at dynamic 4K resolution with quicker loading times. Cross-platform, along with cross-gen, multiplayer is also included and previous-gen owners on PS4 and Xbox One can upgrade to the next-gen versions for free.

Those interested only in Kombat Pack 2 can upgrade their base version for just $14.99. Though it carries the "Ultimate" tagline, we don't expect this to be the end of support for Mortal Kombat 11. So stay tuned for more details and possible leaks in the coming months.


Cyberpunk 2077 – Xbox Series X, Xbox One X Gameplay Revealed

Cyberpunk 2077_V

CD Projekt RED had announced a new episode of Night City Wire for Cyberpunk 2077 on November 19th. However, it suddenly tweeted about showcasing gameplay from the Xbox One X and Xbox Series X on its Twitch channel. Check it out below..

This is perhaps the first time that the FPS/RPG is shown to be running on Xbox One X, or any consoles for that matter. The visual fidelity on the Xbox Series X is definitely higher though and seeing snippets of gameplay like shooting, dialogues and Braindance was neat. Plus Keanu Reeves as Johnny Silverhand makes an appearance for a quick dialogue exchange.

Cyberpunk 2077 is currently slated to release on November 19th for Xbox One, PS4, PC and Google Stadia but will support Xbox Series X/S and PS5 at launch. Alleged promotional materials revealed that it ships on two Blu-ray discs and requires 70 GB minimum for installation (on PS4, at least). Stay tuned for more details in the coming days.


Marvel's Spider-Man Remastered Review – Great Power

If you were a fan of Insomniac's 2018 Spider-Man game for the PS4, you'll be happy to know that the remaster for the PS5 is a fitting update to that beloved game. Insomniac hasn't messed with what was clearly a winning formula here – the original game is pretty much preserved as is, presented with updated graphics and all the DLC included, and not much else in the way of updates. For the most part, this is a sensible decision, because the 2018 game was already pretty damn good – and this remaster, with its handful of improvements, along with the updates that being on the PS5 entails (such as the immensely reduced loading times) make this the definitive way to play this budding modern classic.

If you're not yet caught up on the PS4 game – in which case I'd like to ask to borrow whatever cave or bomb shelter you've been holed up in, given its immense popularity, as one of Sony's highest selling games of all time – it's pretty much exactly what you would expect: an open world, high budget AAA Spider-Man game, with the backing and budget that being a Sony first party game brings with it to the table. That means it's remarkably polished (though this remaster does introduce a few bugs to the game), and, being developed by Insomniac, it plays extremely well.

The look and feeling of webslinging across a virtual New York City is recreated incredibly well, thanks to remarkably simple and intuitive controls that are so easy to master, they quickly become second nature, receding into the background to such an extent that you won't even realize the complex inputs you are chaining one after the other to pull off the slick moves on screen. Equally important to this feeling being nailed down are the incredible animations on screen, which are so smooth and slick, and so authentic (as authentic as a virtual recreation of a superhero can be, at any rate), that it really does – to borrow a popular phrase – make you feel like Spider-Man.

"This remaster, with its handful of improvements, along with the updates that being on the PS5 entails (such as the immensely reduced loading times) make this the definitive way to play this budding modern classic."

Honestly, the visual work in general across the game is spectacular. The original game was a looker, of course, and the remaster retains that, updating the graphics appropriately so that they look shiny and great on your brand new PS5 as well. However, the real coup de grace here is the performance mode of the game, which has it run in a blistering 60 frames per second. And let me tell you, this is very clearly how Insomniac intended for this game to be played. That smoothness and effortless control that I mentioned? It comes to life in 60fps. It feels like a joy to play this game in this framerate, and honestly, it feels difficult to even imagine playing this game in 30fps once you've played it in 60 – the difference is immediately perceptible and palpable.

There is a 30fps mode available with this remaster too, however. The aptly named fidelity mode sacrifices the framerate, matching the original PS4 version's, to deliver higher quality graphics. The game states that this is the "default" experience, and it's easy to see why. The graphics look stunning in 4K, and the new lighting and raytracing effects, in particular, are gorgeous. Unfortunately, as mentioned, this does mean you are giving up on that buttery smooth 60fps, which, for me, is a bridge too far – but in case you are curious to see what kind of high quality graphics Insomniac managed to eke out of this more than 2 years old game, or if you can make your peace with the lower framerate better than I could, then this is definitely the way to go for you.

The graphics, sound design, writing, story, music, all of it come together to make the game feel like a playable Marvel movie or comic. Spider-Man on PS4 is a love letter to the character and the decades of media behind him, with loads of references, easter eggs, callbacks, and of course, plot points, that call to mind the web slinger's outings in various other media. As I mentioned earlier, it all feels authentic.

Marvel's Spider-Man Remastered

"The graphics, sound design, writing, story, music, all of it come together to make the game feel like a playable Marvel movie or comic. Spider-Man is a love letter to the character and the decades of media behind him."

A large part of that is how well the game also pulls off combat – which is at least half the battle in a Spider-Man game. Insomniac, again, pretty much nail this. Superficially, the combat seems to recall the Batman: Arkham games, though, of course, what works for Batman doesn't work for Spider-Man, which is why Insomniac add so many of their own spins to it, to reflect Spidey's unique powers and incredible athleticism. The combat in Spider-Man will give you as much as you are willing to put into it.

It is possible to simply mash the square button through most encounters, especially on easier difficulties, but the true joy of the combat comes in chaining together long combos, and engaging with all the tools available in Spidey's arsenal, from all his gadgets, to aerials, dodges, leveraging the environment, and the objects within it, to inflict damage, evade attacks, and simply look stylish and slick as you fight. Once again, Insomniac have wisely decided against rocking the boat, and once again, it works out incredibly well in the remaster's favor.

This adherence to the original game, however, does have its downsides too. There were several criticisms the original game received, and with one exception, those criticisms can all also be leveled against this remaster. The much maligned stealth sections, featuring other characters such as Miles or M.J., for example, are still here – and while I never really hated them as much as, well, just about everyone else, if you did, then you will still hate them here. The hacking/spectography puzzles from the original game were also similarly criticized.

Once again, I actually quite enjoyed them, but once again, if you didn't, then the exact same thing being in this game will hardly go down well with you (thankfully, as in the original game, you can simply skip any puzzle you like). Then there was the repetitive nature of the activities in the open world, which sent you after hundreds of mindless collectibles, and trite side missions. These I did hate in the original, and in my experience, they were the biggest blemish on an otherwise great experience. These, too, unfortunately, are present in the game as is, and they do mar the experience, more so now than in 2018, what with so many Sony open world games since having contextualized in-game side activities so much better.

The one flaw of the original that has been addressed is the long loading times. This, of course, comes with the territory of being on the PS5, with its extremely fast SSD. Loading is basically instant, and Insomniac even flex the PS5's SSD muscle by allowing you to outright turn off the "quick" travel animations in the original game, which had Spidey travelling using the New York subway. While that concept is humorous by definition, on the whole, I am glad that the loading times are gone (if you really want, you can find a setting to turn on the original animations in the options menu).

Marvel's Spider-Man Remastered

"This adherence to the original game, however, does have its downsides too. There were several criticisms the original game received, and with one exception, those criticisms can all also be leveled against this remaster."

By and large, this remaster is pretty much on par with what I expected from it. There is one area, however, where it disappointed me relative to my expectations. A lot has been said about the PS5's haptics. The DualSense controller is packed with advanced and sophisticated haptics that can increase immersion. I was eager to feel these haptics in action in Spider-Man, and unfortunately, these disappoint. They are there, but they are very slight, so slight, in fact, that I originally thought I had enabled some accessibility setting to turn down their intensity by mistake. Going into the Options menu revealed I had done no such thing, unfortunately, and that the "classic" vibration setting very barely feels like anything. This isn't a game breaker, of course, but it does come off as a disappointment, given the sheer potential that haptics could have in a game like this.

I started this review by saying that if you loved the 2018 game, you will still love this remaster; that comes with the territory of this largely being the same game with some slight, if far-reaching, enhancements. Conversely, however, if the 2018 game didn't do it for you, I can't see this remaster changing your mind at all, unless your sole reason for not liking the PS4 game was a lack of ray tracing, or 60 fps, or quick loading speeds, or some combination of all of those.

If you fall under neither of those categories, and this will be your first time playing Spider-Man, then you are in for a treat. With great power comes great responsibility, we are told, and Insomniac, given the power to develop a Spider-Man game, lived up to their responsibility, by delivering a game that stood out as among the best on the PS4 – and now stands out as among the best on the PS5.

This game was reviewed on the PlayStation 5.


Gears 5 – Operation 5: Hollow Storm Adds 5 New Maps, 7 New Characters, and Much More

gears 5

Gears 5's multiplayer is relaunching today, and with Operation 5: Hollow Storm, it's getting its biggest new content dropped since the game launched over a year ago. Microsoft have published a new update, in which they have laid out all of the changes and additions that the new Operation is bringing with it- and there's a lot to dive into here. In the fact, the game is going to now have twice as much multiplayer content than it did at launch.

There's five new maps, including two new ones, namely Nexus ("fight amongst rivers of Imulsion in this Locust stronghold deep under Mount Kadar") and Regency ("set high above the clouds inspiring both awe and fear"). Three maps are also returning, including series staples Gridlock and Clocktower, and Gears of War 2 map River.

There's also seven new characters to play as, all of whom call back to the series' earlier days, with Anya Stroud, Tai Kaliso, Dizzy Wallin, Lambent Drone, Lambent Grenadier, Lambent Theron Guard, and the Skorge. Meanwhile, the character skin for Gabe Diaz (protagonist of Gears Tactics) is also available.

Notably, in the Horde and Escape modes, characters and character classes have now been separated, which means you can mix and match the two to your heart's content, even with characters that were previously not available in the two modes. There's also balancing changes, 13 new Achievements added to the game, optimizations for the Xbox Series X/S, and more.

Gears 5 – Operation 5: Hollow Storm has gone live, and you can check out a trailer for it below. Meanwhile, its single player DLC, Hivebusters, will be launching in December.


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