20 December, 2015

This Week In Videogames – 20/12/2015

The videogame industry brought a dose of festive cheer this week, in the form of one huge announcement (the tree), peppered with some smaller releases (the baubles), oh and then there’s Destiny (the coal-filled stocking). Take a looksee!

Going Home

Seemingly out of nowhere, a warp gate peeled out of the ether into the midst of the Steam store and Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak was reintroduced, along with a fast approaching release date. Developed by Blackbird Interactive, published by Gearbox Software, Deserts of Kharak is the planet-based prequel to the space-based Homeworld strategy series. Deserts of Kharak was original named Hardware: Shipbreakers (later Homeworld: Shipbreakers) and was an independent title, until Gearbox swooped it up. 

There are clear gameplay parallels, as well as visual ones, between the gameplay shown in the trailer above, and the original two games. I picked up the Remastered Collection a few weeks ago and enjoyed what I played, but hell is it slow going. Deserts of Kharak interests me more, because it rekindled my memories of the Ground Control series, however, as a prequel we already know exactly how this story ends – you even follow the story of Rachel S’jet, presumably the ancestor of Karan S’jet the ship-lady from the originals.

The game is slated to release January 20th, only on PC. I won’t lie, I wish this were a Ground Control game.

Barren Horizons

Speaking of space games turning terrestrial, Elite Dangerous: Horizon, the pseudo-season/expansion of Elite Dangerous released this week, the first stage at least. Horizons is its own game, on both the Frontier Store and Steam, though your character and ships are imported. It’s an odd choice that had me baffled for hours, because I assumed the 6GB patch to the original game was Horizons, its not.

Anyway Horizons lets you land on certain planets, which entails entering an atmosphere, physically landing either in the wild or in a port, and venturing out in an SRV buggy. The Scarab SRV is in essence a Mass Effect Mako locked to the first person perspective, every bit as difficult to master as it sounds, it even features upward thrusters. Without going too much into it – we should have a video up later the week – I didn’t particularly enjoy the experience, of course this is but the first release of the second season of content, so I’m hopeful. Here’s the launch trailer.

Horizons is only available on the PC at the moment.

Activision Finally Monetised Hope Itself

With Bungie boldly walking down microtransaction path, and this particular precedent having already been set by last year’s The Taken King, it was only a matter of time until level boosters went on sale. For £24.99 Destiny players can now boost a single character to level 25, the actually level cap is 40, but the new content is playable at 25. Each £25 purchase also contains a single Subclass Boost, to unlock all traits and abilities in a subclass, as well as some Telemetries, to upgrade weapons faster.

destiny the taken king level booster

Naturally, the appearance of these boosts – there are three in total, one for each class – sparked no small amount of upheaval. I understand why people complain, on a human level, but rationally I just don’t get it. Whether or not a player works or pays to reach level 25 really doesn’t matter to anyone around them, you’re certainly not paying for any in-game advantage, nor even to sail to the end game. And the price should be high; even if it only takes six or seven hours to reach that level through gameplay, Bungie have to keep that experience valuable most people will play it. If I hadn’t levelled all my classes to that point already, I’d probably have resorted to paying for the last one at least.

(Via Eurogamer).

I Wish The Game Looked This Cool

Blizzard’s Overwatch got a cool theatrical trailer this week, focusing on a handful of characters ridding the world of suffering, a noble goal, until you consider they’re shooting people to do it… Anyway, check it out below! 

Homoerotic Ludens

Christmas came early for players of fine videogames, particularly those on the PlayStation side of things as Sony Computer Entertainment President, Andrew House, ousted himself as a Synth this week in a startling announcement video. House laid out their latest partnership in very confident Japanese, the revelation that House could speak the language so well was probably more shocking than the actual news; Hideo Kojima has reformed his studio, Kojima Productions and is developing a PS4 console exclusive. 

Kojima’s clash with Konami turned remarkably public over the last year, culminating in The Game Awards speech by Geoff Keighley. Kojima’s definitive departure from Konami – the company maintained he was on holiday for the longest time – may be upsetting for Metal Gear Solid, and Zone of the Enders fans alike, but to be perfectly frank Konami have been dealing nothing but upset for quite a while now. It’s difficult to see a future where the current Konami cares any for its console franchises and the fans who adore them.

Kojima Productions is independent, made up of at least some of the old Konami studio; their first title will come to the PS4, and PC sometime after its console debut. Kojima described the game as the beginning of a new series: 
"I cannot wait to deliver, with PlayStation, a game that will become a compelling franchise."
It isn’t clear exactly what relationship Kojima Productions and Sony have, or where that will lead in the future. Sony maintains a strong bank of second party studios, independent teams creating exclusive titles funded by Sony as platform holder, such as; Quantic Dreams, Ready At Dawn, and Supermassive Games. This appears to be the relationship here, whether Kojima’s franchise will continue on like this, or branch to multiplatform like Xbox-exclusive Titanfall franchise will, we’ll have to wait and see.

Kojima Productions logo

The Kojima Productions website, linked below, doesn’t tell us much more. You can order some swag adorned with the hot logo seen above and read Hideo Kojima’s “Homo Ludens” manifesto/poem, it’s quite something. With regards to the skull-mecha logo, Kojima later tweeted this:
“Regarding our new logo, we have a whole set of body besides the head. I let you imagine first.”
Here’s hoping for the same studio-franchise branding they previously employed, because I’m all for a Kojima mech game.

With that we’ll depart and likely not return until next year, if all goes well we’ll have a wealth of celebratory content hitting the site between Christmas and New Year. So check back for that, but most importantly enjoy your holidays whatever they may be! Salut! 

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