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Where Are the Playstation 4 AAA Exclusives?

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With Christmas just around the corner, gamers around the World will soon flock to their local retail outlet (or digital hub) to browse the wares of the videogame elite. In 2016 the consumer will certainly have a choice to make between the AAA third-party heavy-hitters: Call of Duty, Battlefield, Fifa, and Titanfall 2 will all play their part in ensuring another successful holiday season for the big publishers. Amongst these multi-platform titles, Xbox One adopters have been spoilt for choice with their own exclusive titles in the form of Gears of War 4, Forza Horizon 3 and Dead Rising 4. PlayStation owners can look forward to a game plagued by delays and disappointing first impressions in the form of The Last Guardian, but that’s the extent of Playstation’s AAA output for the rest of the year. It’s been 3-years since it was released to the public and it begs the question: where are the PlayStation 4 exclusives?

There are those who will cry foul of this article exclaiming the 2016 release of the excellent Uncharted 4 and Ratchet and Clank, but these are just two games from a console manufacturer with an extensive history of diverse AAA titles. The reason PlayStation 3 was able to claw back, and eventually exceed, hardware sales over the Xbox 360 was because of its approach towards delivering a high quantity/quality of games for its varying audience. Titles such as Gran Turismo 5, God of War 3, Heavy Rain, Infamous, Killzone 2, Little Big Planet, MotorStorm, Ratchet and Clank: A Crack in Time, The Resistance trilogy, The Last of Us, and the Uncharted Trilogy all reinforce Sony’s stance on exercising their prerogative of great games unavailable on any other platform. This prerogative feels absent from the PlayStation 4′ current identity.

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Phil Spencer’s invigorated Xbox camp have taken a page from Sony’s book by releasing a steady string of exclusive titles for the Xbox One, and now that plan appears to be working as -at the time of writing this – Xbox One hardware sales have topped PlayStation 4 sales for the fourth month in a row. While not aligning with the colossal expectations that Microsoft was projecting, Gears of War 4 and Halo 5: Guardians are AAA titles that have helped leave a dent in Sony’s paltry offerings. Microsoft’s initial and self-imploding reveal of the Xbox One may have started the console on the back foot, but now it’s PlayStation 4’s dependency on third-party titles and its complacency that has set Microsoft on a better path.

Sony’s E3 conference showcased an impressive line-up of AAA titles such as Horizon: Zero Dawn and Detroit: Become Human to name a couple, and, whilst the future is certainly promising, that’s exactly the problem: what have loyal PlayStation 4 fans got to shout about before these system sellers arrive? PlayStation VR’s current status reflects that of a launch console with an added degree of uncertainty and general public apprehension; impressive, albeit expensive, technology missing that killer app. The sales figures aren’t released to the general public, but Sony assures us the VR is meeting expectations, but at what cost? Maybe the problem with a lack of AAA titles hinges on the spread-too-thin resources at Sony HQ? If Guerilla Cambridge hadn’t been working on the VR title RIGS, Who’s to say they wouldn’t’ve been working on another core PlayStation 4 exclusive? Instead, they’ve released a title for what’s essentially a £400 (including camera) add-on.

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A scenario: you’ve bought a brand-spanking new PlayStation 4 Pro. You’ve been promised a high-performing, power-enhancing behemoth with increased hard-drive space and HDR-enabled functionality: the most powerful console on the market today. You need to test drive your new toy with something equally new and exciting. The Xbox One section is brimming with exclusive titles that take full advantage of the Xbox S’ inbuilt HDR functionality, but looking at the PlayStation 4 section, you’re at a loss: where are the titles that set this console apart from its rising competition? Another piece of hardware ill-equipped to fully demonstrate and justify the reason for its existence. Sony’s trying hard at the hardware game, but its need for accompanying software has never been greater. It will be interesting to see if Sony’s insistence on hardware over AAA exclusives for 2016 pays off.

2016 Should be noted as the year of videogame delays and customer frustration: DreamsHorizon: Zero Dawn and Gran Turismo Sport were all games intended for a 2016 release, but ultimately pushed back. No Man’s sky was continuously delayed after years of development time only to be released with mixed reviews and accusations of lying aimed towards lead developer Sean Murray. The hotly anticipated Street Fighter V was released seemingly unfinished; a business strategy that hasn’t paid off when looking at the disappointing sales. What PlayStation fans are left with are promises of great future titles, they just need to be patient whilst Xbox One gathers momentum. Sony’s strategies closely resemble a console that’s just launched as opposed to a console that’s been on the market for 3 years. 2017 and beyond can’t come soon enough for the PlayStation elite!

 

 

 

 

8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. Craig Sharpe

    November 13, 2016 at 5:42 pm

    Sony are responsible for ensuring software meet the exact specifications for their console before endorsing a studio’s game on their console, this isn’t the point. This wasn’t meant as a huge jab to PlayStation 4, rather an observation on their lack of continuity and momentum from the previous consoles success. Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 started out as a bit of a David vs Goliath situation until Sony started to realise that quality software sells hardware. Surely this strategy should have carried on over to the PlayStation by now? A business need to learn from their mistakes and their successes if they are to grow.

    The PlayStation 4 is my favourite current generation console, but I want to play a game again that exhibits their own unique brand. A different company might add different character, but if it’s exclusive then they’re all under the same banner. I’m not angry or anything like that, I’m very happy with My PlayStation 4, but as a loyal customer I want to see and play games that nobody else can play on any other system – the console is a loyalty card, but it has very little to distinguish it from the competition.

    I can’t think of anymore exclusives coming out for Christmas 2016 aside from The Last Guardian. I’m not sure about your comment on the PlayStation 4 having the biggest game library comprising of the most diverse and critically acclaimed titles. The Order was pretty bad, Until Dawn reviewed well, but nothing special. I’d agree with the statement if were about Sony as a whole, but if we’re mostly sharing third-party titles with Xbox, how can that be true?

    • Matt De Azevedo

      November 13, 2016 at 9:13 pm

      There are a couple of reasons why the PS3 was behind the 360 from the outset of gen 7, but none of those reasons were the quality of its AAA exclusives. The PS3 stumbled out of the gate because the 360 was launched 1 year prior and thus had a large market share established; the PS3’s unique architecture was troublesome for third parties to deal with at the start, so reviewers often pointed out that multi-plats were better on the 360; and most importantly: The damn thing launched at price point that was $200USD over its rival. Sony dropped the price dramatically, 3rd parties got more comfortable with the tech over time, and eventually Sony caught up… but its AAA software was always there. Many, myself included, would argue that the PS3’s AAA exclusives outclassed the 360’s from the very start, and the exact same could be said about the PS4 Vs. the Xbox One right now.

      It’s a catch 22 scenario really. If Guerrilla Games releases a Killzone every 2 years people say “fuck this, we want a new IP, this is getting stale”. Then they take 3+ years to make Horizon and people say “fuck this, where are the damn exclusives?”. Games take time. High quality games take a long time. We notice the gap in-between exclusives because there are far more 3rd party games being made / released than there are 1st/2nd party games, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t enough exclusives.

      Over the next few years I’ll be getting the following exclusives on PS4: Persona 5, Days Gone, Death Stranding, Horizon Zero Dawn, Nioh, Yakuza 0, Tales of Berseria, Spider-Man, Shenmue III… and those are just the ones that came to my head right now, I’m sure there are many more. I just don’t see the argument that there aren’t enough AAA exclusives. If this article was about the GameCube / Wii / Wii U which only got a quality title once in a blue moon to go along with non-existent 3rd party support, then yes, I’d understand, but I’m drowning in Xbox One / PS4 games at the moment, and simply can’t find time to play them all.

  2. John Cal McCormick

    November 14, 2016 at 11:46 am

    “A business need to learn from their mistakes and their successes if they are to grow.”

    This is a really odd statement since it’s widely accepted that that’s exactly what Sony did with the PS4 after the disastrous launch of the PS3, and that’s part of the reason that the console is so successful. Regarding how the PS3 caught up to Xbox 360, it’s an apples to oranges comparison. You can say that you think that the PS3 caught up because Sony realised that quality software sells hardware, and you’re well within your rights to that opinion. It’s not a fact, though. And the truth is that nobody truly knows why the PS3 caught up. All we can do is speculate based on the facts we have.

    I, personally, don’t think it was anything to do with quality software selling hardware. Maybe millions of people in unison decided that the PS3 was attractive because of ace games. I don’t think that was it, though. The PS3 had loads of great games on it, sure, but then by your logic that would mean that the PS4 wouldn’t be selling so well. The arguments kinda contradict each other. Not really relevant to the article, but from my perspective I would say that the reason the PS3 caught up to the Xbox 360 was brand strength, first and foremost. That generation was different to this one, as Matt said, because the PS3 launched nearly a year and a half after the 360 and was priced outrageously. But even early on into the generation the PS3 was outselling the 360 globally (week on week) because it’s simply a stronger brand. I think the quality software available for it was coincidental, if anything, and the success of the PS4 despite fewer first party exclusives would go some way to backing that up.

    “I’m not sure about your comment on the PlayStation 4 having the biggest game library comprising of the most diverse and critically acclaimed titles. The Order was pretty bad, Until Dawn reviewed well, but nothing special. I’d agree with the statement if were about Sony as a whole, but if we’re mostly sharing third-party titles with Xbox, how can that be true?”

    I’m sure about it. A quick trip to Google and Metacritic provides enough research for a fairly reasonable argument.

    Copied from Wikipedia:

    Total Xbox One games (876):

    Exclusive = 30
    Console exclusive = 109
    Multiplatform = 728

    Total PS4 games (1244):

    Exclusive = 111
    Console exclusive = 360
    Timed = 37
    Multiplatform = 680

    Spying at Metacritic will tell you how many of those games were well reviewed.

    This is my point. The PS4 has no games argument has been done, but it’s not fact. It’s just opinion, based on the games you want. The PS4 actually has a massive and diverse library. The Xbox One has a smaller library, but it has a few more high profile titles every christmas, like another Halo, or Gears, or Forza.

    My point was that the argument that the article was trying to make (I think) was that Sony’s first party game hasn’t been strong this generation and I would agree. Only Naughty Dog has really delivered so far. But my counter is that they have more than enough coming from second and third party studios to keep us busy while we wait for the first party studios to get their games out of the door.

    Also The Order and Until Dawn aren’t made by Sony.

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‘Coffee Talk’ Review: The Best Brew in Town

Coffee Talk is as quaint as your local coffee shop. It’s relatively short, wonderfully sweet, and absolutely committed to the art form of telling a story through a video game screen.

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It’s 9:00pm. The rain just started coming down softly a few minutes ago, and the street outside is reflecting the lights above it. Neon signs shine brightly in the distance, although it’s hard to make out the words. You unlock the doors to the coffee shop and wipe down the counters in order to get them clean for the customers. The rain makes a soft sound as it hits the glass and passerby speed up their walking pace to avoid it. The bells chime as a tall, green orc walks in and sits down at your table in silence. You wonder what their story is…

I wanted to set the tone for this review because of how important atmosphere and audio/visual design is in the world of Coffee Talk. While it’s easy to boil the game down as a visual novel-type experience, it’s honestly so much more than that. A unique cast of characters, incredible user interface, and a mysterious protagonist combine to form the most enjoyable experience I’ve had this year on Switch.

Coffee Talk
Some of the subject matter can be pretty serious in nature…

Coffee Talk is beautiful because of how simple it is. The entire game takes place within a single coffee shop. As the barista, you’re tasked with making drinks for the patrons of the shop as well as making conversations with them. The twist is that earth is populated with creatures like orcs, werewolves, and succubi. The relationship between the various races is handled very well throughout the story, and some interesting parallels are made to the real world.

Making drinks is as simple as putting together a combination of three ingredients and hitting the ‘Serve’ button. If a unique drink is made, it will be added to a recipe list that can be referenced on the barista’s cell phone. This is where the awesome user interface comes in, as the phone has a series of apps that can be accessed at any moment in the game. One app houses your recipe list, another acts as a facebook for the characters in the game, one allows you to switch between songs, and the other houses a series of short stories that one of the characters in the game writes as it progresses. It’s one of the coolest parts of the whole experience and helps it stand out from other games in the genre.

Coffee Talk is as quaint as your local coffee shop. It’s relatively short, wonderfully sweet, and absolutely committed to the art form of telling a story through a video game screen.

Coffee Talk cycles between talking with customers and making drinks for them. In the beginning, they will ask for basic beverages that can be brewed on the fly. Later on however, they may ask for a specific type of drink that has a unique title. These drinks often have certain descriptive features that hint at other possibilities in terms of unique dialogue. If the wrong drink is made, you’ll have five chances to trash it and make a new one. If the wrong drink is made, don’t expect the customer to be pleased about it.

The gameplay really is not the focus here though; it’s the characters and their stories that take center stage. An elf with relationship issues, a writer that can’t seem to pin down her next story, and an alien whose sole goal is to mate with an earthling are just a few of the examples of the characters you’ll meet during the story. There are tons of memorable moments throughout Coffee Talk, with every character bringing something unique to the table. The barista develops an interesting relationship with many of these characters as well.

Coffee Talk
Appearances can often be deceiving in this game.

Even though serving the wrong drinks can change some of the dialogue, don’t expect any sort of options or branching paths in terms of the story. It’s not that kind of experience; the story should simply be enjoyed for what it is. I found myself glued to the screen at the end of each of the in-game days, waiting to see what would happen in the morning. The first playthrough also doesn’t answer all of the game’s questions, as the second one is filled with all kinds of surprises that I won’t spoil here.


Coffee Talk is as quaint as your local coffee shop. It’s relatively short, wonderfully sweet, and absolutely committed to the art form of telling a story through a video game screen. It’s an easy recommendation for anyone who loves video games, not just visual novel fans. There are characters in the game that I’ll certainly be thinking about for a long time, especially when the setting brings out the best in them. Don’t pass this one up.

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The Magic of Nintendo: How Mario and Zelda Connect us to Our Inner Child

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Magic of Nintendo

Nintendo is special. Many excellent developers depend upon story or progression systems to entice engagement, but not Nintendo. Nintendo games captivate because of their immediate charm. There is no need for a payoff. The games, themselves, are enough: they elicit feelings, hard to find in adulthood. Through intrepid discovery, playful presentation, and unfiltered whimsy, the best of Nintendo connects gamers to their childlike selves.

The heart of any great Nintendo game is discovery and no encounter encapsulates this better than Breath of the Wild’s Eventide Island. First, finding the island requires genuine gumption. Found far from Hyrule’s shore, the island is only clearly visible from other islands, and even then, it’s only a speck in the distance. Reaching the island requires players to brave the open ocean and head towards something … that could be nothing. Then, upon arriving on the beach, a spirit takes all the player’s gear, including clothes and food. Link, literally, is left in his underwear. From there, players must make clever use of Link’s base skills in order to steal enemy weapons and make traps. The scenario creates a marvelous sense of self-sufficiency brought on by one’s own desire to discover. The player comes to the island purely of their own choosing, tackles the sea, and then overcomes obstacles without the aid of their strongest tools. The game turns players into plucky children who are discovering they can take care of themselves.

The intrepidity of Breath of the Wild and other Nintendo greats mirrors the feelings Shigeru Miyamoto, the father of many Nintendo franchises, experienced as a child. “I can still recall the kind of sensation I had when I was in a small river, and I was searching with my hands beneath a rock, and something hit my finger, and I noticed it was a fish,” Miyamoto told the New Yorker. “That’s something that I just can’t express in words. It’s such an unusual situation.” In sequences like Eventide Island, players don’t just understand what Miyamoto describes, they feel it: Apprehension gives way to exhilaration as the unknown becomes a place of play.

 Nintendo’s intrepid gameplay is often amplified by playful presentation with Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island being the quintessential example. The game’s visuals, defined by pastel colors and simple hand-drawings, appear crayoned by a child while the celestial chimes that punctuate the jubilant soundtrack evoke shooting stars. The overall effect cannot be understated. It takes the surreal and turns it real, allowing players to interact, tangibly, with imagination.

Super Mario Odyssey Wooden Kingdom

Even if one removes the presentation and gameplay from Nintendo’s masterpieces, an unabashed creativity remains that bucks norm and convention. The arbiter is fun; reason and logic have no say. For instance, Super Mario Odyssey’s Wooded Kingdom, takes place in a post-apocalyptic setting akin to Nier Automata. Players explore the metal remnants of a civilization that has become a lush home to robotic beings. However, unlike Nier, the dark undertones of the past have no bearing on the game or those who inhabit its universe. The post-apocalyptic setting is just a fun backdrop. It’s as though a bunch of children got together, began playing with toys, and one of the kids brought along his sibling’s adult action figures. There is no attention paid to the context, only unfiltered imagination.

When they’re at their best the creators at Nintendo invite gamers to come and play, like a parent arranging a play date. Pulled along by joyful gameplay that expands in unforeseen ways, players desire to play for the sake of play. It’s a halcyon state of being: No messy thoughts or contradiction, just joy.

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‘Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind’: An Utterly Shameless Cash Grab

Coming in at a $40 price point (!!!) Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind offers an 80% recycled campaign, a boss rush mode, and some other trash.

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Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind

In the 15 year long history of DLC, we have seen some really shameless displays. The notorious horse armor incident of 2006 and a notable day one DLC for the ending game of a trilogy notwithstanding, few companies have had the utter audacity to offer so little content for such a high price point. Enter Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind.

Coming in at a $40 price point (!!!) Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind offers an 80% recycled campaign, a boss rush mode, and some social media nonsense for people who really hate themselves. That’s really it, that’s what you get. Honestly, Square-Enix should be utterly embarrassed by this DLC.

It’s been one year: 365 days, 8760 hours, 525600 minutes, or 31556952 seconds, since the release of Kingdom Hearts III. Let that sink in as you begin the meat of Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind. Think of it as the extended version of a movie you really like… you know, the kind where they add 4 minutes to the 120 minute runtime.

Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind

Yes, Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind, really is that cynical. I’m not kidding when I tell you that the game literally starts with an exact cut scene from the base game, and a cut scene that happens to be available from the theater mode of the main game that you’ve already bought if you’re playing this DLC. Yes, the introduction to this new content is… content you’ve already seen.

In fact, that’s kind of the sticking point here: most of what you get for your hard-earned cash is footage you’ve already seen, and battles you’ve already fought, and story you’ve already experienced, just with slight alterations for context. Remember back in the 2000s, when we were super obsessed with prequels? This is like that, except even more egregious.

Generally I’m not so unforgiving as to call a company out for a forthright cash grab, but that’s absolutely what Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind is. There’s just no other way to put it. You might find someone in the marketing department for Square-Enix who would disagree, but being a company that has faced just these sort of allegations for their last two major releases, Square-Enix either doesn’t read the news, or doesn’t care what people think of their products.

Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind

Square-Enix was roundly accused of shipping unfinished products in the case of both Final Fantasy XV and Kingdom Hearts III — their two most high profile releases of the last decade. I personally gave mostly positive reviews of both games for this very website but if you want ammo to suggest that this company is deliberately trading on the nostalgia and passion of its fan base in order to make financial headway, there are few examples you could draw from that are as obvious as this DLC.

Look, maybe you’re a really big Kingdom Hearts fan. Maybe you just really wanted to know what the context was for that cliffhanger ending in Kingdom Hearts III. Maybe you just don’t do much research before you buy something. Or maybe… you just really trust this company for some reason.

Hey, I’m not judging… hell, I bought this DLC for $40 same as anyone else. I oughta be honest that I’m not reviewing Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind as some holier than thou critic, talking down to you from my position of privilege. No, I’m an angry consumer in this particular case. I’m a person who spent enough to replace a flat tire on my car, or buy my family dinner, on a game that is clearly playing off of my love for a franchise, and using it to bilk me out of money in a method that is so clear, and so concise, that those involved in the entire endeavor should be totally embarrassed for their part in the creation, marketing, pricing, and distribution of this expansion.

Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind

Yes, fans had their complaints about Kingdom Hearts III. “Where are the hardcore boss battles? Where are the Final Fantasy characters? Where are the secret areas? Where are the hidden plot developments?” Still, to address these particular complaints by hammering a few minutes or seconds here and there into already existing content is truly like spitting in the faces of the people who have built the house you’re living in.

I haven’t sat in the board rooms at Square-Enix and I haven’t been in email chains about the planning of projects at their company but what I can say is that there is something rotten in Denmark if this is what passes for a satisfying piece of content for the wildly devoted fans of a hugely popular franchise in 2020. Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind is literally, truthfully, and succinctly, the worst piece of DLC I’ve ever purchased.

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