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Editorial

Temper Those Expectations

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2016’s in full swing, and the rise of the triple-A blockbusters (along with their budgets) continues. We’ve been here before though, and shouldn’t get led down the garden path that publishers are laying out for us.

Cast your mind back a couple of years to the forthcoming release of Watch Dogs, by Ubisoft. Ubi promised it would sizzle your sausages, be the best game in living memory, and quite possibly impregnate your girlfriend if she even as much as looked at the box art. Instead, what was actually delivered was a slightly watered-down (at least visually) experience with less impactful “connected multiplayer” than had been promised, as well as a fairly ordinary single-player campaign. This is not me bashing on Watch Dogs either.

I genuinely enjoyed it and thought the underlying premise of the game’s mechanics was solid – if sometimes unspectacular. My issue was Ubisoft’s marketing for it, which for many wrote checks that the game ultimately could not cash. This isn’t the developers’ fault but is 100% on the publisher. They market and publicize the game, essentially “selling it” to gamers using the currency of interest before you can use the currency of money.

With today’s gaming budgets running into literally tens of millions of dollars in some cases, publishers need these costs to be recouped. One of the ways they do this is by talking up a game to drum up pre-orders, knowing that the game they are selling is not the same game that you will be buying. Aliens: Colonial Latrines Marines is a particularly extreme example of this, with features simply cut from the title due to time and money constraints. I would certainly argue that Watch Dogs was nowhere near this level of deception; Ubisoft absolutely talked up Watch Dogs and in the end, whilst the game was good, it was not the knockout spectacular that many were hoping for; the current Metacritic range of 77-80 for Watch Dogs across all formats should be enough evidence of this.

division2

Enter The Division.

If anything, the hype train on this has been running for even longer than Watch Dogs‘, with its protracted development cycle that originally saw the game wow audiences at E3 in 2013. Release was originally planned for late 2014, which later slipped to 2015…and now set for March 8th of 2016. These delays have meant that Ubisoft has had to keep the game in our collective gaming consciousness for longer than normal. We’ve seen teasers, trailers, hands-on demos, the addition of a tablet mode for mobile gamers, the removal of said tablet mode (since it would apparently have made the game “imbalanced”), and several “leaks” of beta gameplay from late last year. All of that in an effort to get you to drop $60 on the Newest And Shiniest.

I am trying to keep things in perspective myself. Like everyone else, I was blown away by The Division‘s reveal at E3 in 2013. And whilst I’m still very interested in it, my interest has waned a little over the years since other games have entered and left my areas of interest. Still though, if Ubisoft can deliver, this does look like a game that will have more lasting appeal than something like Titanfall – another game which promised the Earth and under-delivered. Quasi-MMOs seem to be very hot right now (see no further than Destiny) as you can make a game appear to be bigger than it really is without needing the larger infrastructure and maintenance that an MMO requires.

Is The Division going to be Brink, Watch Dogs, Titanfall, Destiny, or somewhere in-between? I can’t answer that. All I can say is that the game looks good, which after so many delays should be the least of what we’re getting. Just remember to keep your expectations realistic. Like your college exams, try to ignore the very best and very worst things you see and hear and try to instead evaluate the prevailing opinion. That $60 in your wallet will thank you – regardless of whether you wind up buying The Division or not.

I write about PC games and sometimes it even makes sense. I'm a refined Englishman, but live in Texas with my two young children whom I am training in the ways of the Force.

Editorial

Three Single-Player Games to Watch Out for in May 2019

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May

May offers no respite from the big, bold games that have released so far in 2019, bringing with it a host of games almost certain to appeal to gamers of every stripe.

Close to the Sun

Release Date: May 2, 2019
Platforms: PC, consoles later in the year

May’s first major release may also be its most intriguing. Close to the Sun has regularly attracted comparisons to BioShock for its art style and premise, though the relationship between the two titles is, at best, spiritual.

Players take the role of journalist Rose Archer as she steps aboard Nikola Tesla’s ship, the Helios in 1897. Like Andrew Ryan before him (or after him, depending on perspective), Tesla has created a microcosm in which scientific freedom is unrestricted, with disastrous outcomes. Rose’s first impression is of a quarantine sign at the entrance to a still, dead ship, but she presses on regardless in search of her lost sister.

With Close to the Sun, developer Storm in a Teacup aims to provide an intense horror experience. The Helios holds none of BioShock’s shotguns or Plasmids. Instead, players have no means to defend themselves, with gameplay focusing on hiding from and escaping the threats on board.

Check out OnlySP’s final review of the game here.

RAGE 2

Release Date: May 14, 2019
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One

For anyone to whom the slow, meditative approach does not appeal, Bethesda is busting out the big guns with the long-awaited, little-expected sequel, RAGE 2.

This time around, id Software has tapped Just Cause and Mad Max developer Avalanche Studios for assistance in developing an open-world game. The result, if the trailers are any indication, is a breakneck, neon-fuelled experience that focuses on insanity and ramps up all the unique aspects of the earlier game.

One focal point of development has been ensuring the interconnectedness of the game’s structure, and the teams have promised a greater focus on narrative this time around. Perhaps in keeping with that, RAGE 2 is being distanced from its predecessor, taking place 30 years later with a new protagonist and a whole new story, though some callbacks will be present.

Although id’s legendary first-person gunplay is a driving force throughout the game, it will be supplemented by some light RPG elements, robust vehicular combat, and post launch challenges and support (though the developers deny that RAGE 2 is designed with a games-as-a-service model in mind).

A Plague Tale: Innocence

Release Date: May 14, 2019
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One

Out on the same day as RAGE 2 is the vastly different A Plague Tale: Innocence. A historical adventure, the game challenges players with overcoming obstacles with brains rather than brawn.

Players become Amicia, an orphan girl struggling to survive in a plague-infested medieval France while also keeping her younger brother safe. With the landscape rife with rats and members of The Inquisition, one of the core tenets of gameplay is reportedly the need to use these threats against each other. As such, though Amicia has a sling to use, the gameplay is designed more as survival puzzles than combat ones.

Developer Asobo Studio is not a household name, though it has a lengthy history of adaptations and support on major titles, including Quantum Break and The Crew 2. Furthermore, even though A Plague Tale is yet to release, publisher Focus Home Interactive has displayed remarkable confidence in the project by extending its partnership with Asobo.

Honourable Mentions

Although RAGE 2 is the incontestable action-blockbuster of the month, gamers in search of another kind of frenetic may want to wait until May 21, when Curve Digital drops American Fugitive, which has a more than passing resemblance to the earliest Grand Theft Auto games. Alternatively, PlayStation VR owners may want to look into Blood and Truth come May 28.

Sega also shines this month, dropping Team Sonic Racing on May 21 and Total War: Three Kingdoms two days later.

Anyone looking for an RPG has indie’s answer to The Outer Worlds, Within the Cosmos, to look out for on May 30, while those looking for slower stories get the latest episode of Life is Strange 2 on May 9, Observation on May 21, and the fjord-noir Draugen at a yet unspecified date.

Have we forgotten anything that you’re excited for? Let us know down below or on our Discord server.

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