Games Inbox: PS5 vs. Xbox Series X in the UK, Vanquish 2, and more Xbox Game Pass love
The Thursday Inbox argues that Nintendo’s lack of games this year is not a problem, as one reader asks for cheap laptop recommendations.
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So let me get this right… out of the five most anticipated games for UK gamers one is a remaster of some old PS1 skateboarding games, one has been indefinitely delayed and hasn’t been seen in public for more than a year, and the other is an exclusive to a console which apparently 84% of people aren’t interested in getting. What a roller-coaster 2020 has been!
Although it would’ve been better if they’d just asked ordinary gamers, as opposed to whoever hangs around watching Comic-Con online, that percentage has got to be pretty worrying for Microsoft. As I understand it the UK is the only place other than the US where the PlayStation and Xbox are close rivals, so they really don’t want to lose any more ground.
As far as I see it the bottom line is this. Microsoft don’t have the games but the do have Halo, which I still think could be good, and they do have the money so they could make sure the Xbox Series X (or Series S or whatever) is cheaper than anything Sony’s got. Add in Game Pass and I do think Xbox is going to be the value for money choice next gen.
But is that enough? It’s pretty unexciting to be looking forward to a new console just because it’s cheap and you get a bunch of games you didn’t necessary want for ‘free’. I can’t believe they messed up that Halo Infinite reveal. If that had looked good they would’ve been doing fine but now they’re really making it difficult for themselves…
Respect the sub
I respect that the subscription model of Game Pass isn’t desirable for many in how they want to consume and own media. The subscription model has clear pros and cons and I can see the argument in all of them.
One view is that subscription services are home to mediocrity where quantity is valued over quality and I’ve seen this automatically applied to Game Pass as it’s a sub service. Personally, I think the vast majority of sub services I use hold their own with a high quota of high-quality content but there definitely is the need for filler on these services. Of all the sub services I use though, Game Pass suffers the least from this; the quality bar is high. You are not trading quality for quantity on Game Pass. The Xbox Games Showcase showed how much stronger the service will get too. Game Pass’s early days could maybe have been described as all filler, no killer but not now, not anywhere near.
Microsoft deserve much of the criticism they receive. Their next gen messaging is as muddled as the Tory’s COVID response. But Game Pass they are getting right. It’s clear that it’s central to their future plans and they are putting everything behind it.
Beyond the perfectly reasonable yays and nays regarding subscription models I’ve nothing but praise for how hard and well Microsoft are working in making Game Pass a desirable product. But putting out a ropey demo for the most anticipated game for your next gen console, that looks like a current gen game after saying you’ve built the most ‘consistently powerful console’ (seriously, after true 4K they just got to stop with this sort of BS, Microsoft talk way too much) then revealing it’s running on PC and is an old build five months before your console is expected to release… well, I’ve no words really. Still really looking forward to Halo Infinite mind, that gunplay looked tight.
Same as it ever was
Blimey – are console launches always this divisive, or is it getting worse with each generation?
I don’t know whether it’s simply because this is very much the tone of discourse in the current times, but it does feel like people are getting very personally invested in which is their preferred console. I own all three major consoles and don’t really see myself having a horse in this race, but one thing I will say from bitter experience is that I don’t recommend being a day one adopter of any console. You tend to get inferior hardware at a higher price with very few games.
I think people generally need to step back and be patient before making a decision; the proof is in the pudding. It will become apparent once they’re launched, reviewed, and out in the open which one suits you. After all (and without offering judgement either way), the Xbox One last generation was retconned into a very different console some months post-launch with the removal of Kinect.
I’m an enormous fan of Game Pass, and I’m an enormous fan of PS4 exclusives – so both are offering something valuable in my eyes. It feels less like each company is offering a better or worse proposition at this stage, and more that they are offering very different ones. Which is more appealing to you is a matter of preference – but I certainly don’t think other people’s choices should be derided or attacked.
Now playing: The Last Of Us Part 2 (PS4) and Outer Wilds (Xbox One)
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I was wondering if you or any readers could help me with any advice for a cheap laptop to play old games such as The Legend Of Heroes: Trails In The Sky, KOTOR, Fable, The Witcher 1 and 2, and Chrono Trigger. I have a budget of around 400 quid, not looking for anything fancy, just a little machine to run some old games.
Are there any particular models anyone would recommend? Thanks and keep up the good work.
GC: That’s not really our area of expertise but we’re sure a reader can help.
In response to matc7884. DVD/Blu-rays aren’t the only source of income for films and TV shows. They have cinema tickets, exclusive TV deals, merchandise, toys, and now streaming deals. And DVD and Blu-ray sales are down over 80% (I think I read that somewhere). So there’s no way selling them at expensive prices is going to work out.
And like GC said, movies have a bigger audience that buy all that stuff. I’d like to say if more people were gaming it’d be cheaper but then EA and Activision do exist.
The next late thing
I’m not all that bothered about Nintendo’s lack of big hitters this year, admittedly I am a long-time Nintendo apologist though. I find I have plenty of games to play and I’m OK with Nintendo releasing their first party games as and when they are ready. Animal Crossing has turned out to be bigger than I’d imagine even Nintendo expected it to be but I haven’t bought it because I didn’t particularly fancy it, I feel I may have missed out but I can live with that.
Having played through the Wii U era, where there was a reasonable trickle of first party games (similar to the first few years of the Switch if you take out the Wii U ports I think) I could also buy some third party games dirt cheap like the Batman: Arkham and Assassin’s Creed games. There is far more third party support for Switch and I have more than enough to keep me going. I don’t have enough time to properly play the games I already have but I still look forward to new games as and when. If they add N64 games to Nintendo Switch Online that will be another time stealer for me.
I’m not sure what the point of my email is other than to say there is probably plenty out there to be played on all formats without waiting for the next big thing.
I never played the original Vanquish but recently picked up the Bayonetta And Vanquish 10th Anniversary bundle so I’ve been playing through its fleeting campaign over the past couple of days and have to say that it is possibly the most fun I’ve had playing a game in a long time, especially seeing as I really did go into it completely oblivious to it with little to no expectations.
Reading online it looks like a follow-up is highly unlikely, but it’s a real shame that we’re not likely to ever see more of this little hidden gem!
Rickandrolla (PSN ID)
PS: Inbox magic please!
GC: It really is great, and we second that magic request.
Catch up on every previous Games Inbox here
A letter this week has just stole my thunder but I was going to write in about mixed Switch performance on recent games and Lonely Mountains: Downhill was one of them. GC mentioned they didn’t see any stuttering but my experience chimes more with the other reviews. Handheld mode in particular I have noticed major hitching in the game, so much so that it has caused me to crash the bike into the scenery on some occasions. Then frame rate, while not ‘slow’ or ‘jerky’ is also inconsistent and with the high precision needed this is definitely noticeable.
Like the previous reader I contacted the developers and they said they were aware of some issues and are looking at it in future updates, to note I’m on the latest patch. I’d still recommend the game, it’s a great experience and it’s just the nature of the gameplay that makes it sensitive to these performance hiccups when they happen.
CrossCode is another one, again I picked it up after great reviews and again on Switch there are stutters and the frame rate is variable, quite frustrating given it’s retro aesthetic and it really takes a layer of polish from the game. A patch has also arrived there to clean it up and has made a difference but you are still looking at variable performance during busy scenes, hopefully they’re working on another.
It did get me thinking, that maybe as we move into a new generation and even indie games are getting more technically advanced is it time to pick up Switch reviews separately? Given how under specced the device is compared to even current generation competition? Not an indie but Doom Eternal is still in development for the console and if the version on PlayStation 4/Xbox/PC is still in the ’20 best of the year’ come it’s release, will GC just lump the Switch version in with it? If we’re looking at the kind of compromises we saw in Doom 2016 between the platforms I’m not sure that works. Not to rag on the Switch I love the console…
Despite this letter I am loathed to let reviews get bogged down in technical specifics but where those details mean the experience differs between formats that definitely needs picking up on. I’ve found the most trustworthy reviews (like GC) are generally the multiformat publications and formats are only mentioned in passing, and I admit for the smaller outlets (like GC again) reviewing games like CrossCode or Lonely Mountains twice just to check Switch performance probably isn’t viable.
GC: Not only did we have no problems with Lonely Mountains on Switch but nobody else has complained about it until this week. That sounds like maybe a patch was released post-launch that messed something up? Although by coincidence it’s the Xbox One version of Doom Eternal that suffered performance issues at launch, so it’s not always the Switch.
The free games on Epic Games Store today from 4pm are 20XX, Barony, and Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP.
Beneath A Steel Sky is free to download from GOG all the time, so if you miss it on Steam (as recommended by Andrew J) head on over and grab a thoroughly enjoyable point and click that has aged really well. Flight Of The Amazon Queen isn’t quite as good, but it’s still very enjoyable and also free on GOG.
This week’s Hot Topic
Given the Xbox Games Showcase last week the topic for this weekend’s Inbox is an obvious one: how do you think Microsoft are doing with their next gen plans so far?
What did you think of the games that were shown and will they be enough to convince you to get an Xbox Series X? Do you think the complaints about Halo Infinite’s graphics are fair and how do you think that game in particular is looking? If you were the head of Xbox right now how would you handle the launch of the console?
If you want to address similar points in the weekday Inbox then please indicate whether your message is meant for the Hot Topic or not.
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The small print
New Inbox updates appear every weekday morning, with special Hot Topic Inboxes at the weekend. Readers’ letters are used on merit and may be edited for length.
You can also submit your own 500 to 600-word Reader’s Feature at any time, which if used will be shown in the next available weekend slot.
You can also leave your comments below and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter.
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