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With the recent revelation of the Xbox Scorpio’s specs, it’s predictably ignited yet another battle in the childish console war. People proclaiming this is the next big thing in gaming and everyone else sucks or Microsoft is horrible and nothing they can do will change that. On even rarer instances, you’ll find those like me who really don’t care one way or the other and with the philosophy of good on the Xbox division and this should continue healthy competition. Who I am kidding. People like that get drowned out by blind fanboys who foam at the mouth at any perceived slight against their favorite console.

Still in the middle of all that rubbish a video game company brought something new to the table, Xbox Scorpio. However, I still wasn’t sold personally and plan on staying with PlayStation exclusively. Que the rabid and delirious gamers proclaiming I’m a Sony shill and that’s the only reason. Let me tell you guys and gals something. Gaming is amazing and one of the best art forms around. Regardless of where I took my gaming, it literally saved my life and made me the person I am today. (Bonus brownie points if you find an old article I wrote on the internet explaining why.) So if you got that kind of support and enjoyment from a Nintendo or an Xbox, that’s great! I won’t speak down to you because you prefer one system to another.

Now this next part might be hard for some of you, but try to control that anger which makes you hate your fellow gamer. With all that said, Xbox still hasn’t sold me on their platform even with the powerful Scorpio. Why you ask? Well they need to bring a lot more than hardware to our proverbial table. Plus, that’s also not nearly enough to get over Xbox’s past sins. If you’re an adult, and not a screaming child, read on and join me in my explanation.

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As a kid, I was extremely lucky enough to have access or be given my own original PlayStation or PlayStation 2. I wasn’t really what I would call a ‘gamer” back then, but that’s just how things panned out. No Xbox or Xbox 360 in the households I resided at. Not necessarily by choice or knowledge. So that was what gave me my start in gaming on this specific platform. Nothing against Microsoft and just life unraveling. It should be mentioned though that the PlayStation 2 gave me some of my fondest moments in gaming: Kingdom Hearts 1 & 2, Madden 05, Tekken Tag Tournament, Final Fantasy XII, NHL 2K5, Burnout Revenge, and more. So there is certainly an appreciation and gratefulness factor.

Then come late 2005, the Xbox 360 is the only next-gen system around at the moment. Of course, many flocked to it simply because it was the newest thing, but there wasn’t any money for me to purchase it even if I wanted to. I say that because the 360 introduced paying for the privilege of online multiplayer. Or as I called it during that time, paying a yearly fee to access your own internet. Yes, I’m aware of the server maintenance, improved network infrastructure, and other “benefits” a premium subscription could have. It still doesn’t change the sudden shift in the culture or expectations at that time. Needless to say, once I was able to garner a PS3 I would thanks to the online being free.

That’s not even mentioning all the great moments a PlayStation 3 would bring. Resistance: Fall of Man particularly had my attention pre-launch. Which ties nicely into my next point. The games. Now I’m not saying the 360 didn’t have a few exclusives, just none of them really interested me in purchasing a whole other system. Except Alan Wake did convince me to purchase it and play the title over at my cousin’s house. Off the top of my head on good to great, well-known titles there was the aforementioned Alan Wake, Crackdown 1 & 2, Dance Central titles, Dead or Alive 4, the Fable series, Forza games, Gears of War trilogy, Halo obviously, Mass Effect 1 (minus that trilogy bundle), and whatever personal favorites people had.

Using that same train of thought, the PS3 had Demon’s Souls, Flower/Journey, God of War 3, Gran Turismo entries, Heavenly Sword, Heavy Rain, inFAMOUS 1 & 2, Killzone series, The Last of Us, LittleBigPlanet, MAG, Metal Gear Solid IV, MotorStorm titles, Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch, PlayStation Home, Puppeteer, Ratchet & Clank games, Resistance trilogy, Starhawk/Warhawk, Tales of Xillia 1 & 2, Uncharted trilogy, Wipeout HD and whatever personal favorites people had. Again this is no way takes away from the great games on the Xbox 360, but with such an amount games, and rather diverse no less, it’s easy to see why a sole PlayStation 3 owner wouldn’t purchase another console.

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On the accessory side of things, I know this isn’t a big deal but can we all agree that the early days of the 360’s controller were annoying? I remember my friends constantly having to change the controller’s batteries instead of charging it through the system. Not really a factor that would make or break a system sale, but something I thought of while writing this piece. The big technical problem would easily belong to the Microsoft’s +50% failure rate. Back in 2009, a survey found nearly 55% of Xbox 360s would have the dreaded red ring of death. Not exactly a number you can put a positive spin to.

Even worse still was how Microsoft handled relations with indie developers and/or multiplatform teams. You see there is something that’s been dubbed ‘The Parity Clause” in Microsoft’s contracts for developing on their system. Essentially, it boiled down to digital titles already on other platforms couldn’t come to the 360. Nope, not allowed. If a team was creating a game at the same time for more than one system, the 360 version had to be superior in every way or at least equal to the other version.

For example, if the PlayStation 3 product was going to have exclusive characters, forget about that game being released on Microsoft’s platform. Sadly, some reports or “leaks” by developers said the same thing happened with graphical fidelity. If the 360’s version looked in anyway inferior to another system’s, once again forget about releasing the title there. There’s even reports and rumors that this is still happening in some form or another.

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So not exactly a friendly or fair policy to the people who work hard and create art for our entertainment. Surely they would change with the times and reinvent their policies for the Xbox One? Yea, you all know where I’m going with this don’t you? Let’s just say that Microsoft once again tried to change the culture of gaming for the seemingly worse. The reveal and presentation of this, at the time, next-gen console was an unmitigated disaster. In my opinion, it spit in the face of gamers everywhere and did little to win over any new fans. Let’s just take a quick peek at one of the more cringe inducing moments.

Yup, that happened and everyone in the gaming community won’t forget it for a long time. Microsoft literally shot themselves in the foot with their handling of the Xbox One reveal. The original plans were for an always online platform (which is a huge problem and would take another article entirely to properly explain why), a DRM system that would restrict sharing games with friends and make used games obsolete, and the initial lie that a Kinect accessory had to be included with every Xbox One. It was preached as mandatory and essential to the experience.

Fast forward a year or two later and all three controversial aspects were reversed. It was done with such prejudice that you have to wonder what was going on through the Microsoft executives’ heads. Did they think us gamers wanted more restrictions on our consoles and a needless accessory fed to us as essential? Like we would gladly purchase a new system that’s $100 more than the next competitor only because of said accessory bundled with those restrictions?

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Lastly, (and a completely bias statement) the former President and CEO of SCEA, Jack Tretton, looked and presented himself with grace. He appeared very approachable like a person you could walk up to and gladly shake his hand. Someone you could get an enjoyable drink with while you discuss literally anything. He just had that homey, family appeal to him as he presented at the many Sony/PlayStation events. I realize what I wrote could be misconstrued as a romantic description of a great man (crap did it again) so let’s just move on shall we.

My entry into gaming was done through the PlayStation brand and I stayed with it thanks to the great games and memories. I’m also aware that Sony or PlayStation is not immune to blunders or completely innocent in the gaming world. It’s just through my eyes their mistakes are nowhere near the level of Microsoft’s sins. It certainly didn’t help that Don Mattrick and the Xbox brand pushed me even farther away with the described 2013 callousness.

At the end of the day, everyone is going to have their opinion. This article just happens to be mine. I’m happy that our industry continues to innovate and that the Xbox Scorpio has some pretty solid specs. That’s just not enough to win me over though. Not until the exclusives are plenty and in more genres and Microsoft’s corporate ideology starts appreciating gamers.

Lover of all things video games and PlayStation and my many platinum trophies can attest to that fact. My life was literally saved by gaming and I do everything to pay back that debt every day.

Gaming

Skull and Bones Launch Causes Surge in Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag Gamers

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It’s intriguing to note that the launch of the long-awaited piracy simulator Skull and Bones has led to a notable increase in players returning to Ubisoft’s previous game, the pirate-themed Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag.

PCGamesN gathered data from SteamDB and observed that on February 15, 2024, the day before Skull and Bones launched, approximately 971 players were simultaneously playing Black Flag. By the 16th, the figure had nearly doubled, hitting 1,662. By the 17th, the number had increased to 2600, and by the 18th, it reached 3,226. After a week of continuous gameplay, a new peak was achieved on the 26th, with 3,594 players online simultaneously. With the game’s peak hitting 16K a decade ago, it’s a fascinating illustration of how success can benefit everyone involved, pun intended.

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One can’t help but sympathize with developer Ubisoft Singapore in this situation. We thoroughly appreciated Skull and Bones after overcoming the initial comparison to Black Flag, which was a point of contention in our review. Ubisoft’s latest release faces a major challenge due to players’ existing expectations and a lack of clear direction for several years.

As an Epic Store exclusive, it’s challenging to gauge the performance of Skull and Bones, especially since console numbers have not been disclosed. Insider Gaming cites sources within the company who claim that 850,000 people have downloaded the game, with the eight-hour free trial that Ubisoft is offering contributing to this figure. It’s worth noting that the developers described the game as top-tier quality and were adamant about pricing it at $70.
Are you feeling inspired to revisit Black Flag after trying out Skull and Bones? What are your thoughts on Skull and Bones if you’ve had the opportunity to try it out? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.

 

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Shibuya Action RPG REYNATIS Coming to PS5 first, with a later release on PS4 in the West later this year

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FuRyu’s Shibuya-based action RPG REYNATIS has sparked significant interest since its announcement for the PS5 and PS4 in Japan last week, with many eagerly awaiting news of a Western release. After the release of the full-length trailer this week, NIS America has stepped in as the publisher for North America and Europe.

While a specific release date hasn’t been announced yet, the company has confirmed that the game will include Japanese audio and English text upon its arrival in this region, along with a PC version being added. Fans will have to wait a little longer for the localized version of the upcoming adventure, which will feature several well-known Square Enix veterans.

“In search of liberation through power, the wizard Marin embarks on a journey to Shibuya, encountering Sari, a member of the MEA, a group committed to regulating wizards,” the description hints. Hide your magical abilities to blend in with the crowd and freely roam the city, engaging in various activities or missions. Alternatively, unleash your powerful skills to access hidden areas and confront any obstacles that cross your path.

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When Shadow of the Erdtree releases, I might stop fighting Malenia in Elden Ring Legend and focus on soloing her

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It’s astonishing that two years have passed since a standout Elden Ring player emerged victorious, solidifying their claim to the Elden Lord throne by engaging in repetitive ritual battles. The character known as Let Me Solo Her valiantly defeated the game’s toughest boss on behalf of players, earning legendary status in the gaming community.

Currently, LMSH is engaged in a battle against Malenia but is eagerly anticipating Shadow of the Erdtree as a potential opportunity to end the conflict. After the DLC was announced, IGN interviewed a player with extensive experience in Elden Ring, boasting over 1,200 hours of gameplay. They claim to have defeated Malenia thousands of times and even completed the game using a unique mod.

LMSH is eagerly anticipating Shadow of the Erdtree, expressing confidence in director Hidetaka Miyazaki’s ability to deliver another outstanding masterpiece for players to enjoy. The terrifying Messmer, who Miyazaki confirmed to be a significant character in the DLC and on par with other potent figures in the game, is the new enemy in LMSH, as depicted above. Could this be a new adversary for LMSH?

The upcoming DLC for Elden Ring, Shadow of the Erdtree, is highly anticipated and is set to release on June 21st for PS5 and PS4. Do you think LMSH will be able to progress? Or do you think they are destined to dance with Malenia forever? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.

 

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