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Editorial

Here’s Why The Xbox One S and Project Scorpio Won’t Have Higher Framerates

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We were all hoping for some definitive answers about the PlayStation Neo and Xbox One Scorpio at E3 this year;, instead we only really got the scoop on the Xbox One S. At least some information was made available about the Xbox One Scorpio and PlayStation Neo, but just like most of the PlayStation E3 press conference announcements, they’re still quite a way down the road. The somewhat strange part of it all is that both Sony and Microsoft insist that the upcoming machines aren’t a new console generation. If that’s the case, what are they?

There’s been some recent confusion and controversy about what exactly the benefit is to us gamers with these new consoles.  A couple of months ago, an anonymous source leaked that the reason why Sony was releasing the Playstation 4 Neo, was because the new VR system wasn’t working as well as they hoped it would. However, there have been others, since then that have said that isn’t the case. Sony is also requiring that all games for the Neo must include a regular PS4 version as well, with no Neo exclusives.

As for Microsoft, they’ve been a little less clear about what exactly the benefit of the Xbox S, and Scorpio will be. What is clear is that the Xbox S will support 4K output, and will actually upscale all Xbox One games to the higher video resolution. It will also feature HDR and stream video content in 4k as well (if your internet connection will allow it.) There are also a handful of other new features included in the new slim Xbox One, but faster framerates is not one of them. The Xbox One Scorpio, as powerful as it is expected to be, also will not improve the framerates of Xbox One games.

The reason behind this is actually pretty simple: Framerates are almost always coded into a console game. During development, along with the resolution, it is one of the primary settings established in a console game’s framework to insure an acceptable level of presentation. If a game is made to run at 30fps, that is the only framerate that program will run at. Later on, if the developers decide they want the game to run at 60fps, there are any number of things that may then need to be recoded within the program. While it’s not a perfect analogy, think of it as playing at 33 1/3 LP at the 45 speed on record player, which doesn’t produce the same results as playing a record actually mastered as a 45.

Xbox One SIn PC gaming, high-end rig owners are able to squeeze higher framerates out of some games because they are coded that way, with variable framerates. The problem with this is that it creates imbalance in multi-player games. I expect Microsoft and Sony will likely both setup some sort of server segregation to maintain a semblance of fairness and I doubt the console makers are interested in setting up a system where you buy into having an advantage in Battlefield or Call of Duty. Granted, those that have the new systems will probably have a better overall gaming experience though.

So, what does a more powerful machine mean for existing Xbox One games? The answer is not a whole lot. If you have a 4k television, your games will probably look a little better, and those rare parts of games where the framerates drop to single digits, will probably be improved. Other than that, you shouldn’t expect big changes, particularly from the Xbox One S. However, once the PlayStation 4 Neo and Xbox One Scorpio are released, the games actually developed for those systems will have significantly more resources to utilize.

Are you looking forward to the new systems? What do you think? Let us know in the comments below, and make sure to follow us on Twitter (@Official_OnlySP) and Facebook where you can also sound off your opinions.

The opinions in this editorial are the author’s and do not represent OnlySP as an organization.

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Writer, musician, and indie game developer in the Land of Enchantment.

Editorial

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

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Three Single Player Games (July 2019) - Sea of Solitude, Fire Emblem Three Houses, Wolfenstein Youngblood

July, the middle of winter down here in Australia. Even in the bizarre New South Wales climate, the biting cold makes for a great excuse to stay inside and play games. 

Weirdly for single players, quite a few prestige games this month include additional co-op modes. With acclaimed designers behind them, such games will hopefully avoid the pitfalls of accommodating multiple players, as too many games have done in the past.

Sea of Solitude

Release Date: July 5, 2019
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One

At first blush, Sea of Solitude looks like yet another story of a young adult struggling with questions of identity and mental health while exploring a beautiful but harsh fantasy world.

Actually, that’s what it is. ‘Quirky, life affirming indie adventure’ is a whole cottage industry these days, but the fact that such games are now more prevalent should never dismay.

Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice was a masterpiece of refined design and storytelling, and Sea of Solitude appears be something similar—this time dealing with a fantastical vision of depression that turns ordinary people into literal monsters.

Players take charge of Kay, who has sought out the eponymous Sea—or rather, a flooded city based on Berlin—in the hope that there is a cure for monstrosity. However, despite its name, she is not the only person in the Sea. Avoiding the other monsters of the Sea seems to be a major part of the gameplay. These tense encounters are likely to provide rhythm and variety to the adventure and keep it from being a just walking simulator. (Not that being a walking simulator is inherently a problem.)

Although published by EA Originals, one would do well to remember that EA the company does not actually profit off the Originals that they publish. With a focused story and themes that still are not often explored in bigger games, Sea of Solitude should be of great interest to single player fans in a month otherwise dominated by multiplayer titles.

 

Fire Emblem: Three Houses

Release Date: July 26, 2019
Platform: Nintendo Switch

Almost certainly the biggest single player release of the month, and tied with Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 as another massive Switch exclusive, Fire Emblem: Three Houses might be exactly what single players need right now.

Lately the Fire Emblem franchise has exploded in both its popular profile and sales success, buoyed by a hunger for both deep anime RPGs and polished tactics games. Three Houses seems to have doubled down on exciting trends and features in both genres: particularly a Persona/Harry Potter inspired magic school setting and an even deeper tactical battle system that ditches the rock-paper-scissors for more nuanced character progression options. As with many Japanese RPGs, the story is also a major focus and hinges upon a time-jump.

The early part casts the player as a teacher at the Officer’s Academy, situated in the center of the game world and attended by students from the three most powerful nations. Five years later, the second and likely larger part concerns the drama between the player’s teacher and their former students, whose nations are now locked in a massive three-way conflict.

As is to be expected for a series finally coming back to consoles after a long time on the 3DS, Three Houses is a massive technical leap over its predecessors. The game boasts better realised battlefields, more detailed armies, and a slick animated style that appears much more consistent compared with the three or four different art styles on the 3DS.

With such improvements, as well as the overall pedigree of the Fire Emblem brand, Three Houses should have no trouble satisfying single player fans looking for a meaty middle-of-the-year RPG.

Wolfenstein: Youngblood

Release Date: July 26, 2019
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One

The recent Wolfenstein revival series is such a remarkable achievement in traditional shooter design and great, if goofy, sci-fi worldbuilding that the co-op focus of this latest instalment is somewhat disappointing.

Yes, as with F.E.A.R. 3 and Dead Space 3, following a well-received second chapter the Wolfenstein series now pivots to a co-operative focused chapter. Though the game is not a mandatory multiplayer experience, combat encounters and puzzles have been redesigned to accommodate the two player mode, giving single players an AI-controlled partner and bullet sponge enemies.

However, all hope is not lost for Wolfenstein: why else would it be the third game on the list? The narrative has been pushed forward in time, as B.J.’s twin daughters are now in their adolescence, now giving players a glimpse at the 1980s of Wolfenstein‘s skewed universe. Additionally, the level design itself is more freeform thanks to development assistance from Arkane, the developers of the Dishonored series.

Will Wolfenstein: Youngblood successfully deliver more of the series’s goofy charm and crazy alternate reality? Almost certainly. On the other hand, will the game be as fun to play alone as in multiplayer? That remains to be seen. Last month’s E3 demo that raised such concerns was naturally only a snapshot of a game in development, so MachineGames and Arkane have had plenty of time to resolve these potential downsides to a co-op focused game.

Those are our three big single player games to look out for this month. Other interesting titles coming soon include Stranger Things 3 on July 4 and Attack on Titan 2 on July 5, both games hitting Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.

On July 12 we will see the sequel to an almost-fantastic Minecraft-like RPG spinoff, Dragon Quest Builders 2 on Switch and PlayStation 4, as well as the Switch port of “anime Monster Hunter”, God Eater 3

The week after, July 19 brings us Switch-exclusive Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order, and at an undetermined time during the month Klei Entertainment’s anticipated survival-sim Oxygen Not Included will finally leave early access on PC.

Have we missed anything that you’re looking forward to? Let us know in the comments below and be sure bookmark OnlySP and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. You can also join the discussion in our community Discord server.

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