With Rise of the Tomb Raider coming to PC (coming to PS4 later in the year) and Jonathon Blow’s The Witness comes to PS4 and PC, let’s talk console exclusives. Do they impact your purchase decisions, both what version you buy as well as what system? Or, are you content to ignore exclusives and just get the games you can get, regardless of where else they’re available?

Monday, 3:34 pm – Gavin

Exclusives have ruled the roost for me when it comes to console decisions in the several consoles/systems I’ve acquired in my life.  SNES, Xbox, Xbox 360, Wii, Wii U, and 3DS have all been governed by exclusives.  There have been other reasons that I’ve gotten a particular console, but exclusives are generally the reason I make a selection.  The only exception is the original Game Boy, which was less about the games that could be played and more about just excitement over handheld gaming, which was burgeoning at the time.

That’s not to suggest that I didn’t enjoy some Sega or Playstation exclusives; almost everyone adored The Last of Us.  Perhaps it’s a bit of psychology at work – maybe I’m convincing myself that I just prefer the Microsoft/Nintendo exclusives to those of Sony, and if I actually gave Sony a fair shake, I’d like them just as much.  But as it stands, I can point to specific games on all of my consoles that were not available elsewhere as ones that I needed to play.

I’ve mused about getting an Xbox One at some point in the not-too-distant future.  That would likely actually be one case where the exclusives were not the reason, as the major exclusive that interests me, Rise of the Tomb Raider, is coming to PC soon.  However, I’m likely to play that on Xbox as my poor little laptop just seems to struggle a bit too much with modern games these days.  I loaded up the 2013 Tomb Raider yesterday, and oof was it ever running poorly.  At medium, the game looks great for what it is, but it ran like garbage – very poor frame rates.  So, I dropped it down to low, and the title’s last-gen console pedigree really shone through.  Compared to similar titles on consoles, it looked poor – games like Bioshock Infinite, The Last of Us, etc.  This game had a 2013 AAA-on-Wii-U aesthetic going for it – something like Assassin’s Creed IV or Splinter Cell Blacklist.

I’ve got very little desire to get a new gaming PC – I’d rather keep the laptop and drop $300 on a new console that will run everything admirably for the next few years, rather than drop $900 on something that will work great until there’s a hardware conflict.  The Xbox One appeals to me because a) I like the ergonomics of the controller, b) I prefer the Microsoft ecosystem, c) it’s a bit cheaper, and d) I can reasonably see streaming to Windows 10 PCs as being useful in the future.

A bit more gaming this weekend for me – Black Mesa, Yoshi’s Woolly World, and Tomb Raider.  I only played a bit of TR, so I’m going to wait to give my impressions of it until later, but as it stands right now, it seems very cinematic and the death scenes are gruesome.  It feels a bit twitchy – Lara is either walking slowly or sprinting like an Olympian, the same problem that plagued my experience with Assassin’s Creed.

YWW is YWW.  No need to get further into that.  It’s still enjoyable, but the game appears to have given up a bit on depth of gameplay.  It’s fine – the game is still adorably fun, but I will be OK with it when it’s over.

I think I’ve finally reconciled my opinions of BM.  When I first played Half-Life, I was absolutely blown away by it, as were most people, and this informed my opinions of it.  I played it several times, but then mostly left it alone for about five years.  In that time, I moved on to other, more modern games.  I booted up HL again in 2012 and was shocked at how poorly I thought it had aged (perhaps this was a function of playing other higher-fidelity games).  Everything was too choppy and rigid – the same sort of complaints that everyone has about going back to an older game after playing so much new hotness.

BM is, then, how my brain wanted to remember Half-Life.  HL isn’t graphically perfect, and I never really thought that it was, but I did think it to be a “nice-looking game”.  BM elevates my memories to what my then-immature gaming brain thought HL was.  It’s not as polished or as smooth as HL2, one of the best-aged games I can think of, but it definitely looks more like how I remembered it.  Funny how our memories work.

Monday, 11:21 am – Ricky

Wow, some great initial reviews are dropping for The Witness. Metacritic sits at 87/100 on 20 reviews – that has to feel good if you’re Mr. Blow, who spent all of his time and money on this game since the release of Braid. Literally, he bought a house, and all the rest of his money has gone into The Witness. You have to admire his gutsy approach, and it initially seems like putting all the eggs in this one basket will work out for him.