Ones To Watch 2014 Recap: Cross-Platform Part Two

Video games are fun. Video games are even more fun when everyone can play them and talk about them, which is a case for why cross-platform titles are the best, even if exclusives can use the hardware for more of an advantage. But let’s not get into that here, let’s take a look at some of this year’s cross-platform games, some of which have released and some which have been delayed until 2015.

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Like its predecessor, Dark Souls II was a tough game. Dialling things up a notch, it took the killing to the next level, with many threats destroying your character (and your soul, then probably eventually your controller) as you played. It’s quite a feat, and though I haven’t played it myself, the accounts and anecdotes over the internet are quite hilarious.

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I’d like to imagine some of them are exaggerated, but the truth is that they’re probably not: saying Dark Souls II is a hard game is an understatement. Apparently. We didn’t even review the game, simply due to the fact that everyone on staff was too scared and worried they wouldn’t be able to complete it, or something like that anyway.

Dark Souls II was one of the last big releases purely for PS3 and Xbox 360, with no version coming to new generation consoles. It’s not fair, I know, but perhaps we could see an upgraded port coming at some point? That could be one for our Ones To Watch In 2015 feature.

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While I don’t know very much about Final Fantasy, I do know that Lightning Returns was met with a lukewarm reception, with its time limit on gameplay proving to be a hinderance rather than an important mechanic.

Lightning – the protagonist of the first Final Fantasy XIII, who also played a role in XIII-2 – returns here, as the title of the game suggests, five hundred years after the events in the previous game, and only has 13 days to save the world. In comparison, that’s a very short amount of time.

Our review copy got lost in the post, so we didn’t get to give a thunderous verdict on Lightning’s return, but the Metacritic score should be a good enough reference, with a less-than-great score of 66. It’s still good then, but not the quality people expected from such an esteemed series. Let’s hope Lightning just goes away for a bit now.

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While we’ll have to wait a bit for the full Metal Gear Solid V experience, as The Phantom Pain releases next year, Ground Zeroes essentially acted as the prologue of the game, giving an hour or two of gameplay for an extortionate price. It had plenty of review value at least, so there’s that.

The game sees Snake – voiced by Kiefer Sutherland for some ungodly reason – after the events of Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, on a sneaking mission in Cuba. There’s naturally Kojima’s penchant for twisty story telling, despite the game only being an hour or two long at most, and it manages to set-up The Phantom Pain, though it doesn’t go far beyond that. There’s a sandbox world, which leads to exploration and extra side missions if you’re into that sort of thing, extending the game time.

Stefan reviewed this one for us, and though he isn’t the biggest Metal Gear fan, he did enjoy what he played, just perhaps not enough to justify the cost:

Splitting Ground Zeroes back into a separate release was always going to be contentious. Thankfully, there is a lot more gameplay and depth than the early reports of the main mission’s length suggested and it’s full of potential for exploration, fan service and Kojima’s particular brand of hackneyed allegories.

Unfortunately, there is still too little primary content to justify the £29.99 price tag or even the £19.99 digital pricing for PS3/360, so I can’t recommend this to anyone but a die hard MGS fan.

Definitely an odd one then, with a lot of controversy around the length and pricing, not to mention the change of Snake’s voice, but it’s still a good game for the Metal Gear die-hards, or people who take pride in finding every little detail in a smaller-than-usual area.

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The Elder Scrolls Online released on PC earlier this year, though has seen a six-month delay on consoles, meaning that it will arrive either late this year or, more likely, early next year on PS4 and Xbox One. To be truthful, console owners shouldn’t fret, as they’re really not missing out on much. It’s a game which starts off like any other Elder Scrolls adventure, though one which soon falls into the trap of merging this gameplay with many outdated MMO mechanics.

That means that instead of being able to enjoy the game at your own pace, sneaking your way through dungeons and feeling like the chosen one, you’ll often come across plenty of other people who are just as good, if not better than you, which makes dungeon-crawling a race to the finish line and means that quests follow an overcrowded path. It’s also not really an open world either, with distinct areas needing you to level up before you can travel from one to the next.

Saying that, the multiplayer does add some unique moments to the game, where you might be stuck on a particular enemy but ask a player’s help, or where you might gather a smaller group together and take on a questline together. These moments saved the game somewhat, but it’s really too much of a different experience for fans of traditional Elder Scrolls gameplay.

If you want to read more about TEScO, then you can read my Travels in Tamriel diary here: Part one, Part two, Part three.

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While The Elder Scrolls Online might not be the open-world RPG you’re looking for, The Witcher 3 might just hit the nail on the head when it releases on PS4 and Xbox One next February. That’s right, it’s been delayed from 2014, but it’s shaping up to be an excellent adventure, and one which requires no prior knowledge of the series, making it a perfect debut for the franchise on PlayStation.

Playing as Geralt, a Witcher as the title suggests, you’ll find a very personal journey within a large world at war. We saw it at E3, and alongside a rather interesting and revealing interview with the game’s lead producer, we were able to preview the game.

In my preview, I discussed the colossal open world, which also has an incredible amount of detail within it. There are some great traversal options – from horse riding to climbing – and then beyond that, the combat is extremely refined. From werewolves to more grotesque beasts and monsters such as Griffins, you’ll be able to fight and hunt many types of enemy. I concluded my preview with:

From what we’ve seen so far, The Witcher 3 appears to encompass a rich and expansive world, which could make for some fantastic storytelling that should appeal to newcomers and series veterans. With distinct creatures such as Johnny alongside a talking tapestry and more traditional beasts such as the werewolf, Wild Hunt is populated with creatures which are as exciting as the world they inhabit.

I’m really looking forward to Wild Hunt despite not playing any of the previous games in the series, here’s hoping it lives up to our expectations and the delay was worth the wait.

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What can I say about Thief? Not much, actually, as I haven’t played the game. Thankfully, the title recently featured in WeView, so we’ve got some of your opinions to share! While it wasn’t entirely negative, it’s clear that you lot were less than enamoured with Thief, with our WeView Verdict round-up including quotes such as “wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t great either” and “daft as a brush”. You can read more on that over here.

Dan J blogged about Thief for TSA shortly after release, describing it as “a game worthy of praise”, concluding:

The controls may be clunky, and the story uninspiring, but the niche gameplay is immensely satisfying and rewarding. The stealth mechanics and the stealing appeal are by far the game’s best attributes, and when applied outside of the main story path Thief has something really going for it.

Definitely one for fans of stealth then, though if you haven’t played Dishonoured, you should perhaps check that out instead. Hey, and at least it lasts a lot longer than Ground Zeroes.


That’s us for today. You’ll have to wait until tomorrow for more from Ones To Watch, where – guess what – we take a look at more cross-platform games, with a distinct Ubisoft focus.

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1 Comment

  1. Elder Scrolls Online was a lovely game, for me. I recall you playing it almost solely on your own, I think, Blair. It’s definitely not the ideal move but it can still be very much enjoyed on your own. God knows I’m doing exactly that and I’m on my third character (and four lands open).

    Definitely join a guild as that’s key to anyone having some party fun. Also, you’re more than likely to have people who will not rush through the dungeons quickly.

    I’ve consistently found that the only busy places are the towns and they feel right with the crowds of people. Out and about, you encounter a few folk here and there but nothing that feels immersion breaking. Equally, the anchors that shoot down to the ground are a bit of fun (and usually need others to join you for the following skirmish). I can’t help but feel that ESO suffers in the same way that many other titles that are rated as “good but not great” do. People are all too quick to piss on them and shout about the negatives when there’s 70% positive about such a title.

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