Gaming Editor, Lewis Painter, shares his thoughts on the latest features, products and news from the Gaming world
Tell us, what are the buzz topics of Gaming at the moment?
The biggest talking point in the gaming world right now has to be the inclusion of loot crates in games – especially AAA-rated games that cost upwards of £40. Loot Crates are often referred to as a way to “pay-to-win” as they provide benefits including stronger weapons, better armour and rarer equipment compared to gamers that don’t buy the crates.
What have been the highlights of 2017?
PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds – at the start of 2017 it was just an idea, but the game has sold a whopping 30 million units since March 2017 and has smashed Steam’s record for the number of concurrent users in a single game, all while being in ‘Early Access’. The game has just released version 1.0 and left Early Access, and it looks like the excitement surrounding the game isn’t going to die down any time soon.
Assassin’s Creed Origins is also a highlight for me. The AC series has received negative criticism in recent years, so the team decided to ‘take a year off’ in 2016 and spend extra time developing Origins – and it was the right choice. The game is incredibly detailed, and paints a perfect picture of Ancient Egypt.
What should we look out for in 2018?
Harry Potter AR should be an exciting release in 2018. It’s being developed by the people behind the hugely popular Pokemon GO, so we can expect an impressive AR game set in the Harry Potter universe that encourages gamers to head outside into the real world to collect virtual wizarding items.
We may also see the reveal of second-generation VR headsets like the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift. While the current headsets are impressive, users complain about the lack of detail due to relatively low-resolution displays. I expect higher-resolution headsets to be announced later in 2018, possibly sporting inside-out tracking that negates the need for external sensors.
What were your top takeaways from E3? (the big annual gaming convention)
My highlight of E3 2017 was the reveal of the Xbox One X, Microsoft’s answer to Sony’s PS4 Pro and the first console to provide ‘true 4K’. We knew details about Microsoft’s high-end console prior to the event, but it was the first time that the physical dimensions, branding and price were revealed to the public.
I was also pretty excited about the announcement of Beyond Good & Evil 2, although there isn’t much to go on yet beyond a CGI trailer showcased during the event.
What’s your platform of choice and why?
It’s a tough one – PC has a wide selection of games much cheaper than on console, but gaming PCs are much more expensive than the equivalent console. You’d have to spend way over £500 on a gaming PC that could match the output of the 4K-enabled Xbox One X, for example.
Personally, I’ve always been a PlayStation man – from the days of the original PlayStation to the PS4 Pro, I’ve had every Sony console. Whilst I admit other platforms might offer benefits like Microsoft’s Play Anywhere scheme, Sony’s range of exclusive games keeps me from jumping ship.
What are the hottest gaming genres at the moment?
The Battle Royale genre, popularised by PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, is all the rage at the moment. They’re great for live streaming, as every game has the potential to be wildly different to those before, and keeps gamers entertained for hours on end. There are a number of high-profile ‘clones’ like Epic Game’s Fortnite PvP mode popping up, with more in the works for release in 2018.
Do you think that algorithm led games like No Mans Sky are the future of video games?
As much as I’d like to say yes because it’s an amazing way to create open world games with a r
elatively small team, it makes it more difficult to implement elements like multiplayer – something fans beg for in games like No Man’s Sky.
Which is the best video game franchise of all time, and why?
Though there have been many a great game franchise throughout the years, Uncharted will always be one of my favourites. From the first to the fourth game in the series, each improved on the last, not only in terms of graphics, but storytelling, battle mechanics and the feeling of wonder that each game inspires when you stumble across lost ruins.
The game has always pushed the boundaries of what was possible, especially in terms of graphics. Even the games on PS3 looked like Hollywood movies!
What aspects do you think make a video game great?
I think a good combination of a gripping story line, decent graphics and convincing voice acting – there’s nothing worse than voice actors that can’t sell the emotion they’re supposed to be feeling. Online multiplayer is also a bonus as it provides more long-term value compared to a linear one-player game, but games like The Last of Us are highly regarded as some of the best ever made, and they don’t focus on multiplayer.
How significantly do you think that Virtual Reality will impact the future of video games?
I think it’ll find its place in the market in the next year or two, but I don’t think it’ll completely take over. VR is great fun, but only for relatively short stints.
How much responsibility should game companies take in the role of policing online user interaction?
Companies should definitely take responsibility for user interaction – a strong-arm response when it comes to abuse and hacking would help to de-toxify the gaming community.
How successful is the mobile gaming market compared to consoles?
It’s a tough one – mobile gaming is popular because the majority of games are free to play, if not relatively cheap when compared to AAA-rated console and PC games that can cost anywhere between £40-60 each. But on the flip side, the better-quality games are usually on console and PC, not mobile. However, even the most popular console games like Minecraft with 122 million downloads can’t compete with the likes of Pokémon GO with over 752 million downloads.
Which archived game series would you love to see a reboot of?
2017 has been the year of the re-master, and we’ve seen plenty of old games such as Crash Bandicoot brought back to life. Personally, I’d love to see a revival of Spyro the Dragon – it was an incredibly fun game to play when I was younger, and I’d love to see how the game could be improved with modern-day mechanics. It’ll make a difference to the sea of first/third-person shooters on the market at the moment.
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