The first half of August was alright, I guess, but things didn’t really get all that exciting until the second half. That’s when I spent a load of time drinking beer and eating sausages. I think I played some games around that time too.
Microsoft started the month quite strongly, even if some things were reversals of poor decisions. They confirmed that a headset would now be bundled with each Xbox One, with those buying the Day One edition console getting FIFA 14 for free. On top of that, it wouldn’t block HDMI capture devices with HDCP, and they’d been able to find some extra leeway during manufacture, and had boosted the GPU and CPU speeds.
Of course, it couldn’t last, and they then had to announce delays for 8 European countries, pushing them back to 2014, and that voice commands were only going to work if you spoke English, French or German. Notably not Russian, which would put a dampener on Edward Snowden’s gaming plans, as he gained temporary asylum in that country.
Actually, I’m not sure how fond he would be of using an Xbox One. I think he might feel a little uneasy at having a camera pointed at him the entire time. At least you don’t need to have it plugged in these days.
There were a couple of moments that wowed audiences, as GTA V’s drip feed of details to the media and fans continued to ramp up. This time it was GTA Online that got a public outing:
Then Techland showed off Dying Light. They’re the team behind the Dead Island franchise, so another zombie game would be sure to have a few of you sceptical… but then this turned up, a hybrid between Dead Island and Mirror’s Edge, with free running, zombie bashing and good solid fun. Then night falls, and it gets really bloody scary and tense:
But this was all prelude to the main event. Gamescom!
I hopped on a plane to see what the gaming world had to offer and EA came out with a few announcements at their conference. Most importantly was the fact that everyone in the hall would get a pretzel and a beer afterwards, but also that Peggle 2 and Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare would be Xbox One timed exclusives.
I don’t think anyone really applauded that, and though they did show off some lovely looking footage for Battlefield 4, the whole “Levolution” portmanteau didn’t get applause, but a similar sound by way of palms meeting foreheads. It didn’t help their case that the PS4 version being shown behind closed door was only running at 720p, and they had to quickly react and state that it would be at “900p” at launch.
Sony had a whale of a time at the show, as Shuhei Yoshida sat down in a great big armchair and gave us a public showing of the PS4 interface for the first time – though it had been leaked earlier in the month.
They went on to announce the PS4 release dates, the 15th and 29th of November, in the US and EU respectively, before moving into one hell of an Indie game love-in. Shadow of The Beast, Rime, Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture, Resogun and Velocity 2X all got announced that day, as Sony strengthened their ties with the Indie community even further.
After that point, I got to busying myself with playing other games, and eating as much sausage as I reasonably could. Vaughn – famous for being yelled at on the TSA podcast – was there and he can attest to this fact. There was lots of sausage, but I should also mention the really good bakeries and fantastically cheap public transport. The weather, thankfully, wasn’t quite as obscenely hot as 2012, and it actually rained a little while I was in Germany.
I miss the rabbits though, which I saw every night as I wended my way back to bed.
While I was busying myself writing up reams and reams of preview articles, a lot of publishers were panic-releasing their games. They had probably thought they were safe to release their games in September, I mean, the consoles wouldn’t be out until closer to Christmas, and the traditional sparring match between EA and Activision’s shooters wasn’t until the end of October.
GTA V’s September release put paid to that, and so August was packed to the rafters with new games. Pikmin 3, Payday 2, Disney Infinity, Saints Row IV, The Bureau: XCOM Declassified, Splinter Cell: Blacklist, Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn and Lost Planet 3!
Some good options in there, but I’m sure you’re all wondering if anyone bought that $1 million Saints Row IV special edition. Sadly I don’t have any answers for you.