October’s always a pretty busy month, in terms of game releases, as the major publishers get games on shelves to occupy our time during the colder, wetter and darker months of the year. Oh, and with Halloween on the 31st, October tends to have the scarier games.
Except that Halloween this year was actually unseasonably warm. The month as a whole was quite wet and windy, as you would expect, but a brief patch of balmy weather at the end of the month coincided with the end of the half term holidays and meant that trick or treaters could venture out into the night and threaten home owners into giving them sweets without wearing winter jackets. Gravesend and Kew Gardens both recorded highs of 23.6 ºC, as the south of the country basked in the sun for just a little bit longer.
In the wider world, Kim Jong-un made his first public appearance in 6 weeks, but did so while supporting himself with a cane. It put to an end the media speculation that he had died from illness or been forced out of power, but it seems clear that he was sick. Of course, nobody was going to mess with him, and we all know now that we’d better not mess with the North Koreans in general, or they won’t let us watch Seth Rogen films.
The United States collectively freaked out as the second, third and fourth cases of ebola occurred, the first two in Dallas and the latter in New York. Quite sensibly, several states imposed mandatory quarantines for people returning from West Africa, but it backfired when inaccurate testing apparatus incorrectly suggested that a nurse returning from Sierra Leone to New Jersey had a temperature, forcing her to stay in quarantine for several days.
North of the border in Canada, the crack smoking Mayor of Toronto, Rob Ford, finally lost his vice-like grip on the position, as John Tory was elected to power, presumably on the platform of not being addicted to drugs. Rob Ford remains a city councillor.
But October was really a rather busy month for video games, though nothing like the insanity that was yet to come. The month started off with the oddly mixed reception to Alien: Isolation, with a muted response from the US media, before Driveclub had a mixed reception more universally. Horror fans also got The Evil Within, though those wanting a Formula 1 game would have had to settle for F1 2014 on last gen – its own particular kind of horror.
The Wii U actually had a rather strong month too, with Stealth Inc. 2: A Clone in the Dark and Bayonetta 2 releasing (naturally, the latter was more highly anticipated and reviewed very well), and Xbox One owners got a major exclusive in the form of Sunset Overdrive.
However, this was a month of controversy and disappointment. Driveclub, as we all know, did not have a smooth launch, with the servers crumbling under the strain of the public release and Shuhei Yoshida eventually having to step in to say that the PS+ edition was being postponed indefinitely.
Ubisoft’s woes continued as the team behind Assassin’s Creed Unity made further verbal blunders. First it was that the game was going to be at 900p on both Xbox One and PlayStation 4 “to avoid all the debates and stuff” and then it was that 30fps was “more cinematic” and “felt better”. In an unrelated move, Jade Raymond left Ubisoft after 10 years, having founded Ubisoft Montreal and been instrumental in the creation of Assassin’s Creed.
Costume Quest 2 missed its intended release date in the EU on PlayStation, for those wanting a cute RPG to go with Halloween, while The Crew was delayed until December, Pillars of Eternity to 2015 and Dying Light was canned on last gen consoles. Prey 2 was also cancelled, as though anyone could really remember it was even in development, and Microsoft decided it best to shut down the Xbox Entertainment Studios, putting an end to their multimedia ambitions with the Xbox One.
The PlayStation 4, meanwhile, went from strength to strength. 13.5 million consoles had been sold, Sony announced, and 7.9 million people had subscribed to PlayStation Plus, and the end of the month finally saw the release of Firmware 2.0, with features like Share Play and the ability to pause downloads.
Of course, it couldn’t all be smooth sailing. PSN had scheduled maintenance and unscheduled downtime, around the time of the 2.0 release, and the Evolve alpha which was scheduled for the 31st had to be postponed because of issues with the firmware update. You’ll have to wait until tomorrow and the November recap to find out how well that went…