No Exclusives for Series X
TDT has periodically speculated over the last several years that Microsoft no longer wants to be in the console business, and does things to self-sabotage their success in the console space. After this latest bit of news, I think that the hypothesis is pretty much confirmed. Due to the lengthy and sometimes tardy nature of game development, the vast majority of third party launch window software will always tend to be last gen ports. Because of this it has traditionally fallen to first and second party developers to produce software which actually takes advantage of the new console hardware. This was certainly true for the launch of the Xbox One and PS4, and it stands to be even more true for the launch of the PS5, but not the Series X, it would appear. All Series X first and second party software will also be released on the Xbox One, for at least the first year that the console is on the market, and possibly for as long the first two years of the console’s life.
As our content comes out over the next year, two years, all of our games, sort of like PC, will play up and down that family of devices.
We want to make sure that if someone invests in Xbox between now and [Series X] that they feel that they made a good investment and that we’re committed to them with content.
Exclusive software for the forthcoming console generation seems like it would be even more important than it was for the Xbox One and PS4, on account of the nature of the capabilities being expanded. The main area where the Xbox One and PS4 pushed the envelope was with the boost to graphical processing power and available RAM, which manifested in games with more attractive environments with sharper textures. This obviously lends itself well to cross generation ports, as ugly PS3 games were reskinned with sharp textures and high precision lighting and graphical effects – still not as good as natively developed software, but a clear improvement over its last generation counterpart. By contrast the most important aspect that the Series X and PS5 are pushing forward will be CPU processing and the speed of HDD storage, which will enable larger, more complex environments, full of more physics interactions, AI, and generally more moving parts. This obviously does not lend itself as well to cross generational development, as the need to support last generation consoles will prevent the forthcoming consoles from fully capitalising on their greatest advantage. It is inevitable that third party software will suffer due to this, but Microsoft have decided to join them in their lack of ambition, in a seeming attempt to make the Series X the most unnecessary console in gaming history. Sony will not be taking this approach, and Series X will suffer in the comparison.
It was a mere fortnight ago that this news post discussed the near certainty that that PS5 will be less powerful than the Series X, but if Microsoft goes down this dumb path then it might not initially look that way. First party Microsoft software already compares incredibly poorly to Sony first party software, so it is just bizarre that they would choose to further handicap themselves in this regard.
Buyer Beware – Region Unfree
The Nintendo switch has ushered in a bold new landscape of region free Nintendo games since the system launched in 2017. We were suddenly free to purchase any Switch game on the market without having to take pains to ensure that you are buying a game from a compatible region. The biggest concrete effect that this has had is that many fantastic games which are digital only titles in the West have been given a physical release in Asia, and these games may be freely imported to enjoy on our region free Switches. We will have to be more careful going forward though.
Nintendo has recently partnered with Tencent in order to launch the Switch in China. This release has broken Nintendo’s worldwide region free strategy. The Tencent console will still play games from any region, but the Tencent game cards will not work in non-Tencent Nintendo Switches. Obviously this means that we will all have to exercise a little more caution when ordering our games to ensure that we do not purchase incompatible Chinese game cards. Chinese boxes can be identified by a blue and white logo on the bottom-left corner of the game box.
Season Pass Announced for Pokemon Sword and Shield
This author has held off on buying the newest Pokemon instalment until now on the off chance that Nintendo might later announce an ultimate version of the game, similar to what we saw last generation. This is no longer a concern. This week’s Pokemon Direct saw Game Freak announcing a DLC season pass for Sword and Shield, and specifically mentioned that this was taking the place of an ultimate version of the games.
The DLC will sell for $30, and will be comprised of two new regions full of things to do and Pokemon to catch; the Isle of Armor and the Crown Tundra. Both regions will be open and will facilitate online interactivity, similar to the central expanse of Sword and Shield. The Isle of Armor will be released this June, while the Crown Tundra will launch later sometime during autumn.
In this expansion, Trainers will head to the Isle of Armor, the stage of a new adventure in the Galar region. The Isle of Armor is a giant island full of environments not seen in Galar before. There players will find wave-swept beaches, forests, bogs, caves, and sand dunes. There are also plenty of Pokémon that make this island their home, living freely amid the lush natural surroundings. There’s even a dojo here that specializes in some very particular training styles. Trainers and their Pokémon will take up an apprenticeship under the master of this dojo and train hard to become even stronger.
This expansionis set in the snow-swept realm of the Crown Tundra. The Crown Tundra features a beautiful shining, silvery landscape. In this frigid area, with its jagged winter mountains, people live in small communities where they support and rely on one another. A certain person will appoint the player as the leader of their exploration team in the Crown Tundra, where Trainers will be tasked with investigating the reaches of this frozen land. Here, Trainers will be able to explore the full depth of Pokémon Dens, which they’ve so far only been able to glimpse in Max Raid Battles.
The release of Sword and Shield was somewhat controversial due to the absence of hundreds of legacy Pokemon, and a fair chunk of these will be added back into the experience with the DLC. To facilitate this the Pokemon Home paid service will be launching in February, and will be compatible with the prior Pokemon storage service on the 3DS.