It happens every year. For nearly a whole week, gamers are treated to a glimpse of the near-future of video games. Frankly, the industry is built mostly on hype, and E3 is the primary vehicle used to get consumers of interactive entertainment frothy at the mouth. 

Generally, the week after E3 is quiet. The industry has blown their proverbial load and is now taking a nap. Gamers will be left rewatching the previous week’s coverage and playing games that are currently available, eagerly looking to the calendar and hoping these beautiful summer days slip by quickly and give way to the “holiday season”.

Friday, 12:00 pm – matt

TheLastofUsPoster1

Thursday, 6:45 pm – Albert

Excellent coverage of MS. Those guys… damned if they do, damned if they don’t. Their ideas were innovative and new, but their messaging, marketing and PR were just terrible. There are some decent features that they truly believed in: such as sharing games which are a great start but people were led to believe it was just an onslaught of DRM measures and nothing more. After pushing back and saying “We cannot just flip a switch”, then went and switched it on. Or off.

For me, I just enjoyed the drama and I really have no strong opinion either way. The PC Master Race in me just wants ports of games to the PC side. That’s pretty much all I care about. Whether or not MS wanted to be the “Steam” of the consoles, they failed on their communication.

Purely from a tech view, consoles are arguably on their way out and I believe MS knows this. They are trying to become a set top box which specializes in Games but also allows you to control video, photos, etc. Soon they’ll be trying to push the “Smart Home” bit where you can adjust your -always on- system from an app on your phone and unlock your door, set temperatures, etc all from the palm of your hand. This current cycle of consoles will really show whether or not consoles are here to stay or whether people will move more towards streaming devices. I believe that MS was looking into the future but was too quick to push the future on people who did not want to/could not adopt their vision. In any case, Sony took advantage of Xbones negative image and made out like a bandit.

Thursday, 12:07 pm – matt

nice write up on the change from micro$oft. it was to be expected after sony literally set the world on fire with their e3 announcement and price model so this was to be expected.

for myself the limits of ‘always on’ internet and digital releases comes with bandwidth limitations. I don’t have the craziest internet set up, but I do have broadband and don’t mind downloading a game over night or during a work day while im not available to play, the issue for me is the size of games today. my playstation 3 disc drive doesn’t work so it has in essence become a digital release only system for me (the future is here!) and with the PS+ program it works out well with free titles and discounts.

however when I tried to download Uncharted 3 and noticed it was a 40 GIGABYTE file size I couldn’t believe it, how big could the next generation titles be?

Thursday, 8:57 am – Ricky

Well, that was an exciting Wednesday! Just a scant number of days after the industry’s biggest show, Microsoft has pulled the handbrake on all of their DRM and always-online policies. Fascinating.

Here’s a great interview between Patrick Klepek, the scooper of the original story at Giant Bomb, and Microsoft’s chief product officer Marc Whitten.

Coming off the heels of the announcement, and after reading the interview, I have to wonder two things: 1) How much of this was money-motivated vs. feedback motivated (ie. they got crushed by Sony on price point and probably are getting beat on pre-orders) and 2) How are developers feeling about this policy change?

1 is a bit of a no brainer for me – the change is coming because of Sony and Nintendo’s position, not because of feedback. Is it good or bad? Could Microsoft have been on the brink of ushering in a new era in digital entertainment? This guy things so – “The Internet mad Microsoft kill a car for a faster horse” – but I’m not entirely sold on the idea that benefits of “always-online” connectivity and the benefits from the “freedom to play offline, anywhere, anytime” have to be mutually exclusive.

2 is a bit tougher. Consider this part of the interview between Klepek and Whitten:

Giant Bomb: Some of the games you mentioned–Titanfall is one, Foza is another–are games that are investing in the cloud infrastructure to enhance the gameplay experience. Obviously, third-parties have a little more leverage in terms of how they handle those policies, but Forza is a first-party game. What happens for the consumer that chooses to just be offline, and purchases a copy of Forza? Does that impact their singleplayer experience, or only start to cut them off from things that require the cloud, such as drivatar?

Whitten: It’s really up to the game creators. Either in first-party or third-party, we don’t have any specific policies around that. We want to give them access to a ton of capabilities in the cloud, we think most people will probably be playing connected to the live service and to our cloud servers. We think it can really change the experience in a whole bunch of ways, and, frankly, we hope we see game creators come up with amazon things that could only happen when you’re connected to the cloud because they’re using that power. If that’s single player, multiplayer, whatever–that’s their choice.

How will this policy change affect Xbox One games? I’m particularly concerned about the launch titles, those which are set to release in mere months and are (hopefully) in the polish stage and getting ready to go gold. But what about the games coming out a year from now? Where the developer has been operating under the old policies Microsoft has likely been touting internally for many months and possibly years. The benefit of developing for a console is that you’re preparing a product for 1 type of system, with 1 set of system specs. There are probably some developers who were banking on all of their customers having a connection to the internet – like Respawn with multiplayer-only Titanfall – and now that there will be offline customers too, they will have to think long and hard about developing, or worse still, shoehorning in offline capabilities.

Whether or not this is better or worse for Microsoft and developers, I think it’s clearly better for customers seeking to have choice. Despite the direction games are heading in, this is where we are now. Sure, they can put all of these policies back in place 5 years from now, but hopefully by then, rural and remote internet connectivity will be at an all-time high, and bandwidth limits will be less of a concern.

Wednesday, 7:48 pm – Ricky

And it’s been confirmed by Microsoft: All DRM has been removed from the platform. Plus, trade-in, lend and sell your games the same way you do today.

What. A. Flip-flop. More from me tomorrow on this, you can be sure of that.

Wednesday, 4:30 pm – Gavin

As Ricky made me aware, Giantbomb.com is reporting that Microsoft is preparing to pull back on all its DRM.  Nothing is confirmed yet, but it looks like they’re doing a complete 180.  Here’s the summary:

  • No more always online requirement
  • The console no longer has to check in every 24 hours
  • All game discs will work on Xbox One as they do on Xbox 360
  • An Internet connection is only required when initially setting up the console
  • All downloaded games will function the same when online or offline
  • No additional restrictions on trading games or loaning discs
  • Region locks have been dropped

No confirmation yet, but Patrick Klepek is citing internal sources.  This could mean many things – were they testing the waters with their plans?  Unlikely, because you don’t venture into full-blown policy development and then RETCON this in.  Most likely they realized that they didn’t want to have to deal with two major hurdles – price and DRM – this holiday season when people are increasingly driving towards one brand, be it Sony, MS, Nintendo, or the glorious PC gaming master race.

More info to come once it’s been confirmed.

Wednesday, 1:52 pm – Ricky

I really like reading some of Polygon’s feature-length articles. The latest entry in their Human Angle series is an in-depth look at the voice actor who played John Marston, the main character in Red Dead Redemption. Rob Wiethoff has only ever done Marston’s voice, and has since slipped off quietly. It’s a great read and a fascinating look at this one-time voice actor.

Also, lol:

Wednesday, 1:00 pm – Albert

You force was strong with you! But now, you’re not.. forced? Something something something dark side.

Compliments to your willpower! There really is only a couple more games that may sway you but I believe Last of Us (at least on the top of my mind) is one of the last (pun intended) given you’ve already played your cards quite well.

I had seen the chatter about Gunpoint and caught the trailer on Steam. It seems like a really cool concept for a game. I have to say I enjoyed the trailer humor with the spy consistently punching the guard and the amazing sound effect it has when he’s hitting him. That alone makes me want to purchase the game. Crazy to think that all this was made by one person! That’s a real game dev story.

Last of Us Update: Just hit a turning point in the story. Still challenging but fun game. Sneaking around the clickers was terrifying. I am playing with headphones and there were parts that mimic’ed the classic Jurassic Park moments where the creature is right next to you and you’re holding your breath. That being said, I probably should have gone to sleep instead of play this game…

Wednesday, 8:59 am – Ricky

JOIN the dark side?!? I used to LEAD the dark side! I was the video game-buying equivalent of Emperor Palpatine until this Backlog Challenge!

Again, Albert’s experiences all sounds super incredible and amazing and I want it going into my eyeballs. Still, I’m resisting.

I think part of the reason is that there are many more games than just The Last of Us that I’m missing out on this year (you can add Tomb Raider and Bioshock Infinite to the list of 2013 games I’ve played). For example, there have been a ton of indie games that have seen success and that I’d love to pick-up and play (and just generally support). We spoke on the site about Gunpoint a couple of weeks ago – Tom Francis, the lone developer, has recently put out a great blog post about the success he’s seen with the title and his plans for the future. Just take a look at my Steam wishlist to see how many games have passed me by this year.

Sure, purchasing The Last of Us would break the Challenge and open the flood gates to everything I’ve been missing in 2013. But what about everything I missed from 2010, 2011 and 2012? I’d still like to play those games, too. So I’ll keep resisting, at least for now, and I’ll keep plugging away at what I’ve got.

Related to the Gunpoint news: It feels good knowing that someone who made a good product – independently and with creative freedom – can continue to create unique new experiences for the industry. We need more of that.

Tuesday, 8:31 pm – Albert

Last of Us is definitely a cool thing. I cannot wait to dive into multiplayer but I definitely need time to play Last of Us. What I find about the game is that it walks that fine line between always having to be stealth, and straight up gun totting or fighting as keys to victory. Sometimes, the best course of action is to run. But if you’re low on ammo, or health and you can sneak up on a guy (or zombie) it might be best to take that person out to avoid being taken by surprise later. I’m only in the beginning but taking on multiple people at the same time is nearly impossible.

I’ve met the situation where there are five heavily armed gentlemen who are actively looking for me. My first attempt was to be completely stealthy. I crept behind some crates and threw a bottle to distract the two guards closest to me. One went to investigate and one turned around to check in with the one investigating. I took this as my opportunity to dash past them. Of course what I didn’t realize was that there was a sniper providing cover. He spotted me and radio’ed it in. This began a firefight and I tried to dash but ended up catching one in the back of the head. My second attempt I decided to mix it up. I threw the bottle but this time got behind one of the guards and choked him out. Then I picked up a brick and threw it to distract the sniper. I snuck past where the sniper could see me but I ended up getting spotted by ANOTHER guard which triggered a firefight. My partner shot the guard in the arm momentarily dazing him and I charged the guard thrusting my forearm into his neck and slamming him against a dumpster. I then grabbed him, used him as a shield and shot another guard before knocking the “grabee” unconscious with the butt of my gun. Then I ran like hell into the sewers. But like I said, I haven’t put that much time into the game yet. But besides there being really seamless transitions between fighting, shooting, grabbing and interactions – there is a real element of danger at every turn. It actually is quite a stressful game which requires fast thinking just to survive and i’m playing on Normal. Crazy people are playing on survivalist which is the highest difficulty.

You’ll cave eventually Richard… eventually.

Besides Dishonored – Company of Heroes 2, Splinter Cell: Blacklist, and GTA 5 are all games being released this year 😉 You might as well just add Last of Us and openly just play 2013 games! Join the dark side…

Tuesday, 1:01 pm – Richard

UGH. Albert. Stop making cool things sound so cool. That Reddit description was astounding.

I think I’ve moved past first-person shooting for my multiplayer fix. I’ve actually been having more and better third-person shooting experiences. I’ve played a bit of Tomb Raider multiplayer with matt and another buddy, and we’ve been having a great time with it. Max Payne 3 also had a really great multiplayer suite, and with matt having picked up Grand Theft Auto 4 again, I think we’ll be jumping into that soon.

I’m still holding out on The Last of Us – though, it’s getting quite hard with all the positive chatter surrounding the game. I’m still enjoying Dishonored, plus with Company of Heroes 2 coming out next week and my wedding next month, I think I’m all good for gaming until August. We’ll see the release of Splinter Cell: Blacklist on August 20th, and with my Ubisoft pass, I can dive into that for a short while before Grand Theft Auto 5 comes out in September.

Of course, to the keen observer, you’ll notice I mentioned 3 titles I”ll be playing just in that one post! There were some exceptions with the Backlog Challenge: I had already prepurchased Comapny of Heroes 2 back in September of last year, well before the Challenge, and I have a Ubisoft pass that gets me all of their PC games.

To be frank, I feel bad about the exceptions (though, Preezie and Albert were made aware of them) – I’ve got a great backlog still to get to, and the year is already halfway done! It’ll be a challenge to get to all the titles I want to play before the doors open again in January and I get to catch-up on great titles like The Last of Us.

There, that should make me feel a little bit better about abstaining from buying an amazing game.

Monday, 6:24 pm – Albert

HEEEEYYY EVERYONE ITSsss MONDeeeyyyrrr!

E3 has come and gone. Some things were shown. Some punches landed. Overall, a decent E3 this year. Since you guys pretty much caught me up on everything while I was busy last week, i’ll jump into talking about GAMES!

Company of Heroes 2: The Beta is live (and has been) but I finally bought into it since it comes out next week. The game keeps a lot of the essence of the original with some adjustments. I only played 2 hours but I noticed that variety is more emphasized this time around. Having a MG, Mortar Team, and Anti-tank gun is essential to victory. While this was true in the first as well, there have been adjustment to make this the dream team. Another change I noticed was that your down soldiers of your enemy cringe while they slowly bleed out, but the change is that you can kill them to speed up the process. This cuts sight from your enemy as their downed soldiers still provide vision on the battlefield. There is a new mechanic called True Sight which basically means anything larger than a soldier will block out all vision to those units. Meaning, that large buildings or trucks will cast blacked out parts in the fog of war which means you can set up ambushes and funnel your enemy into death. Combine that with the ability for your soldiers to jump over barriers, i.e. Walls, fences and you have quite the arsenal of tactics to impose on your enemy. OH yeah, there is this weather element that when a blizzard comes over, your soldiers will freeze if not next to a fire, in a building or inside a vehicle. Snow affects the speed of soldiers when travelling through deep snow as well as tanks. I’m still trying to decide whether this is fun to deal with or causes me more micromanagement that might annoy me.

That was the appetizer. I got Last of Us which was released last Friday. Let me just paste this here:

LastofUs

If you don’t even want to click the picture you can clearly see a big 95 as the score for Last of Us.

The important thing is: Is this over-hyped by the media? I mean there were only 76 reviews… and only over 800 user reviews. Yet, all very favorable. HMMM, they might be onto something here?

Yes. Yes they are. This game is great. If you have a PS3, you owe it to yourself to play it. I’m going to throw a couple more hours and confirm and DEFINITELY make sure. But so far. Yes. More.

Also, I haven’t tried multiplayer yet, but i’ll let someone on Reddit explain it better:

“You’re bunkered down in a ski shop, most of your team has headed left, but you have opted for guarding the right flank. You keep your head down, just waiting for someone to come by… gunfire is traded from where your team had gone, you check your rifle, 10 bullets, all you were given when you came to this town, and you hear your team go down, one by one. Now it’s you, and your last friend, who is getting hell rained upon him by the enemy team.

You slowly drop from your second story perch, sprinting towards the right flank, figuring you can get them before they kill your teammate, and you spot them, two enemies hiding behind the husk of a car, and a sniper providing cover. Your teammate goes down from a bullet, he’s on all fours and two enemies sprint for him. You come up behind the sniper, plant a shiv in his head and start firing at the two who are finishing off your teammate. You hit with only one bullet, and now your rifle is empty, but it’s too late. They just put a bullet in your last friend. And they know where you are. There are two of them, and they’re pissed.

You book it out of the sniper’s hole, dodging fire from two rifles, dropping the smoke bomb you made earlier to cover your ass and make it to the town square. You find a scavenging spot, and thank god, as the last one left, it drops a Molotov and other goodies for you. But they’re coming, searching every hiding hole for you. You have to sit perfectly still, any movement and they’ll hear you, and then you’re dead. They don’t need to worry, there are two of them, and they’re watching each other.

Closer and closer they come, first they’re down the street, then they’re feet away, now just inches. That’s when you strike. You jump from the back of the truck you hid in, throwing the burning bottle right at the face of one of the assholes. He bursts into flame, screaming murder as his friend turns to face you. You raise your two by four, blood pumping as his rifle fires two shots, three, missing every shot. You sprint up to him and hear the dull thump of his head as the hunk of wood hits him. You swing again, smack. And again, smack. He falls. You stand there, not entirely sure how you did that. You move forward, scavenging whatever food they brought with them, knowing it’s not done yet…” – Accessblack

Monday, 8:18 am – Ricky

Titanfall hasn’t gotten much video play here on Gamentary. Let’s change that, shall we? Here’s a link to the 1080p video of the demo from the Xbox conference, and a look at the game with Adam Sessler of Rev3 Games is embedded below.

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