The Sunday(ish) Edition: The Future of Gaming

j_elationj_elation What!? A Sunday Edition actually about games and not about OSTBear’s weird political beliefs!? I know I know… These are truly strange times we live in.

It’s blaspheme!

This is madness!

I’m done, I swear. But before we get on with it I want to say hi to an old coworker of mine. She’s a fantastic woman and apparently reads my blog… Ironically though she’s not much into gaming so this might be one she skips ­čśŤ

I generally just watch the E3 highlight reels to be perfectly honest. I haven’t had the desire or dedication to follow the entire Expo for a while. Not to say I’m not a gamer, but there’s a lot of generally useless information to parse. There was a time when a game announced at E3 was damn near guaranteed to be incredible, and now it just seems like it’s guys patting themselves on the back all the while trying to build the hype machine and it’s becoming annoying. I remember the E3 announcement of Fallout 4 and I practically fell to my knees weeping in joy. Then I got it and immediately hated myself for day 1-ing it. Metal Gear Solid, Halo 5, Batman: Arkham Knight, Battleborn, Just Cause 3, Mass Effect Andromeda… These 6 titles were major headliners at E3 2015 and all of them were either garbage or barely skimming “meh”. And this doesn’t include the dozens of games announced at E3 2015 that ended up basically being re-announced at E3 2017.

But due to some severe back pain I took some medication, another thing I almost never do, and I basically couldn’t feel my face the whole day. I had this plan to edit more videos, do a podcast, and all of that became me drooling and asking my wife to make me food. I am quite pathetic when I have a cold or take medication. Which you wouldn’t think that would be a problem for a 350lbs guy but you’d be wrong. About the medication that is. I don’t know a single guy that doesn’t become a mewling infant when he gets a cold.

So anyways, I watched a lot of E3 today. Announcements swirled in, more will come into the wee hours as Bethesda is doing their announcements at Midnight so… lucky us I guess? But the big announcement that caught my attention was the XBox One X.

“XBox One X?” you might ask, “but ‘Bear, didn’t they only just come out with the XBox One S? And aren’t those names going to become super confusing in conversation?” Both great follow up questions, and thank you for calling me Bear and not OST. I will never understand why people shorthand my name as OST in voice chat and not Bear. One’s a real word, and the other is clearly an acronym. Also, the answers to your questions are ‘Basically’ and ‘Yeah, someone from marketing is getting in trouble over this one’.

The XBX (I really hope that acronym catches on) started development it would seem the day after the XBone launched. Which really isn’t that uncommon, but a very interesting thing happened. While it’s not uncommon for a console to be re-released at a future date, much like the PS3 slims or the PS3s without backwards compatibility — because for some reason it makes the Playstations infinitely more expensive, but not XBoxes — it’s super uncommon for them to get a hardware upgrade like the XBS and the XBX got. The XBX is basically 3 times the machine that the XBone is but that isn’t the interesting part; the XBX is still an XBone console, and any games that work on an XBX will work on an XBone.

But maybe interesting is the wrong word. Maybe the word is revealing.┬áBecause I think XBox has figured out what myself and many others have thought for a long time: We’re paying a freaking ton of money to get something that’s prettier than the last thing we got, but not better. I mean, sure, there are absolutely gamers who look at a frame-rate below 60 and scoff with an upturned nose… But if you were to ask me whether or not I’d like to play Golden Eye on the original N64 or play the newest Call of Duty on whatever system… I’d be humming the 007 theme song while grabbing chips and soda for a Living Daylights Flag Tag marathon with my friends. And that goes for pretty much the whole channel here, and most gamers I know. Yeah, Arkham Knight looked gorgeous, especially in those up close cut scenes… But I polished that game off in record time, including Riddler Trophies and side missions which were largely unmemorable. Batman Arkham City on the other hand? That took me a long damn time and held my interest at every turn. I got snazzy graphics, precision controls, little to no load times… and I got it for the price of probably 10 to 15 hours of in-game content.

And that was frustrating. Is frustrating. I bought an XBone basically at launch and only one or two games have been “must plays”. And before you go off about how much better Sony is you can just shut your trap. Uncharted was about the only great game they’ve launched since the PS4 came into being, and if we’re being real honest they basically could have done that game on the PS3. I mean, look at their 2015 show: God of War Remastered, FFVII Remastered, Kingdom Hearts Remastered, Ratchet & Clank Remastered… noticing a pattern? The Eighth generation of consoles has been largely a bust and the things that have been the “coolest” are the things that have been re-released. Which is why the XBX, for me, is a sign of hope. Because while it does have beefy-er hardware which will invariably lead to better looking games, I don’t HAVE to buy it. I’m hopeful because maybe the industry has learned something. Beefing up the graphics capabilities of our consoles isn’t really the most important thing. The most important thing is the game, not the look. Just watch the XBX briefing. The biggest crowd cheer? Was when the announced backwards compatibility with the original XBox, a machine that’s almost 16 years old. The biggest cheer for a game? Crimson Skies, a 14 year old game. It wasn’t Bioware’s Anthem, or the newest Forza, or even the State of Decay sequal. The biggest moments were when they found out they could play old games.

So, gaming industry, if you’re reading this (how cool would that be?) please hear my plea. We don’t want you to spend countless man hours designing the most realistic looking landscapes. We don’t crave the ability to zoom in super close to an alien eye and make out every detail of the iris. We honestly don’t care that much about load times, frame rates above 30, or that the town that’s way off in the distance that we are nowhere near right now is rendered and not a static object. Skyrim and Minecraft are the ugliest games in the world… but I guarantee you that you will not find any two franchises that have more Let’s Play time on YouTube than these. Microsoft, most of us don’t care that you made sure to get 1080P and 60FPS… you dropped split screen multiplayer from Halo 5 like a bunch of morons and we haven’t forgiven you. And don’t rest on your laurels Sony, you butt hats. Stop thinking you’re great ’cause your re-releasing old games. You’re not cool, you’re a hipster… Except like one of those hipsters that make great vegetarian sandwiches at a local shop that are so surprisingly good that you can’t help but cry they’re so tasty… but still! I want steak now and again, alright?

Anyways… Thank you for your time gaming industry…

Also if… If either one of you want to sponsor a loud mouthed gaming channel… call me?

– Have a Good’er

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