Tag Archives: Microsoft

Comparing Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft’s 2014 Christmas Holiday Lineup

I recently wrote a piece on this very website (which you can check out for yourselves here) on the top 20 games of Q4. Now on that list there was quite a few exclusive games from Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo, and it got me thinking – which publisher has the strongest lineup? And just how much of an affect is it going to have on the sales of each respective console? Let’s start with Nintendo, shall we?

 

Nintendo’s Wii U Lineup

Never count Nintendo out. Never. They may be playing second fiddle to the Playstation 4 and Xbox One right now, and they may continue to do so for the rest of the generation thanks to the Wii U’s lack of power, but Nintendo’s strong point has always been their first-party software – and this year is no different. With Mario Kart finally getting DLC, an experimentation in the Zelda franchise with Hyrule Warriors, a new face in Bayonetta to be welcomed to the family and the ever popular Smash Bros. franchise making its debut on Wii U, it’s a pretty good time to be a Nintendo fan.

 

Hyrule Warriors (Sep 19) 

Hyrule Warriors

 

Starting things off early this holiday season for Nintendo is Hyrule Warriors, and it certainly isn’t your pro typical outing from Link. A mixed reaction from fans upon its initial reveal, but a little shake-up to a franchise once in a while isn’t a bad thing. But is it just going to be Dynastary Warrior’s in Hyrule’s clothing? We don’t have long left to find out.

 

 

 

Bayonetta 2 (Oct 24)

Bayonetta 2Bayonetta is one of my favourite games of all time. And it’s no coincidence that the developer – Platinum Games – is also one of my favourite developers. And honestly, it wasn’t until recently that I really got excited about the sequel, thanks to the recent Bayonetta 2 dedicated Nintendo Direct. It looks like more of the same zaniness from the first game and like every good sequel it looks to be bigger, better and more badass (thanks Cliffy B). It’s an interesting move from Nintendo to acquire the rights to Bayonetta, and perhaps a sign that more mature first-party titles may follow suit. It’s also smart of them to be including the original with every copy too. Let’s just hope the sales do the quality of the game justice. 

 

Super Smash Bros. (Nov 2014)

smash bros wii u proper

By far Nintendo’s big blockbuster title this holiday season, and arguably the biggest title of this year. Smash always sells in abundance, but if, like me, you felt slightly let down by the previous outing on Wii Smash Bros. Brawl, then you’ll agree with me that Nintendo has something to prove with the franchise. New characters, stages, weapons etc are nice and all, but I can’t help but feel the beat ’em up formula may be starting to wear a little thin. At least on console anyway, but more on the handheld version later.

 

 

Mario Kart 8 DLC Pack 1: (Nov 2014)

Link on a motorbikeOk, not a physical release like the rest of the lineup on here, but hey, it’s kind of a big deal that Mario Kart – for the first time ever – is receiving DLC. Or as Nintendo call it, AOC (Add On Content). Most exciting of all is that Nintendo is branching outside of the Mario franchise, as this  is a Legend of Zelda themed pack that will see Link playable for the first time ever alongside Tanooki Mario and Cat Peach. 8 new tracks, four new karts and three new characters to keep things fresh. God bless you, Nintendo!

 

Nintendo’s 3DS Lineup

The 3DS is trumping the Playstation Vita’s sales, and in terms of the lineup for Q4, the 3DS is trumping the Vita in that regard too. With an impressive catalogue of games on the Wii U this holiday season, the 3DS most definitely isn’t slacking either.

 

Smash Bros. (Oct 3)

Smash Bros 3DSI wrote about how I think the Smash Bros. formula on console may be wearing thin, however the handheld version intrigues me. Smash – as we all know – is all about the local multiplayer. So just how will this translate on to the smaller screen of the 3DS, which is predominantly single player oriented? That’s for Nintendo to figure out and for us to find out in October.

 

 

Pokémon Omega Ruby / Alpha Sapphire (Nov 21) 

Pokemon Omega RubyPokémon Ruby and Sapphire is the best generation in the Pokémon series, and I’m giddy at the prospect of taking a trip down nostalgia lane. Pokémon games always sell – we know that much. But we’re just little over two months away from its release and it really does feel like Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire require a bigger marketing push. Here’s to hoping the Ruby/Sapphire remakes get their own Nintendo Direct.

 

Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth (Nov 28)

IPersona Qt really wasn’t until Persona 4: Golden launched on the PS Vita in 2012 that I first got into the Persona franchise. And given that Persona Q is the first Persona game on a Nintendo platform, I have to wonder just how many hardcore Nintendo gamers in the west have their eye on Persona, or have delved into previous games on other platforms.

 

 

Sony’s Playstation 4 Lineup

The delay of The Order: 1886 really has tipped the scales out of Sony’s favour, as they’re missing that big, meaty, AAA high octane shooter this holiday, and without it they now have a fairly soft lineup with just Driveclub and LittleBigPlanet 3. LittleBigPlanet 3 will also be coming to the Playstation 3, but outside of that it’s clear that Sony’s main focus is on the PS4. Perhaps their investment in Destiny was Sony’s best move yet in the current generation lifecycle so far, then.

 

Driveclub (Oct 8) 

DriveclubWhen Driveclub was first delayed it really weakened the Playstation 4’s launch lineup last year. However that delay may now come back as somewhat of a blessing to Sony, because if it did come out last year, then all Sony would have to offer in terms of exclusives this year is LittleBigPlanet 3 – and that would be a lot of weight on Sackboy’s shoulders. I’m no driving game fanatic, but the buzz surrounding Driveclub seems to have been very positive. Time will tell if the year of extra work has paid off though.

 

LittleBigPlanet 3 (Nov 19)

Little Big Planet 3I’m sure there are some diehard LBP fans out there that were disappointed to find out that Media Molecule had moved on from the franchise, but the reveal trailer at E3 should have put some minds at ease. It certainly looks like a LittleBigPlanet game – which is a good thing – but this time some friends of Sackboy are coming along for the ride to shake up the formula. LittleBigPlanet 3 faces some stiff competition in the jam-packed month of November, but Sony will be hoping the Playstation faithful pull through. 

 

Playstation Vita

It’s never a disappointing time to be a Vita owner, because it’s always going to be great to own the best handheld gaming system of all time that has a library chock full of killer games. However, in terms of looking at the system’s future and the seeming lack of support, the Playstation Vita could have a short lifecycle – and that’s worrying to say when it’s not even three-years old at this point. There could be one saving grace for the Vita this year though, and that’s SCE Japan’s Freedom Wars.

Freedom Wars (Oct 29)

Freedom Wars

 

Freedom Wars is the highest-selling Vita game in Japan, but whether it will be received as well in the west remains to be seen. SCE Japan are one of Sony’s most prolific developers though, so here’s to hoping they deliver the goods and give Vita owners a reason to be excited this holiday season.

 

 

 

Microsoft’s Xbox One Lineup  

The lead up to the Xbox One’s launch was somewhat rocky to say the least, as policies were reversed, messages were changed and even executives were changed. The removal of Kinect in June of this year was the turning point of the console for me though, and they have a very strong lineup of games to close Q4. Microsoft have locked down timed exclusive deals with Call of Duty and Assassin’s Creed as well, although honestly both franchises have seen better days.

Forza Horizon 2 (Sep 30)

Forza Horizon 2

As I mentioned earlier when writing my piece on Driveclub, I have very little knowledge and interest in them. A lot of people do though and the Forza franchise has become a big staple for Microsoft that may have even taken over the number 2 spot from Gears of War. Forza Horizon 2 gets a week head start before Driveclub’s release, and it will be interesting to see which fares better both commercially and critically. It will also be out on the Xbox 360 as well, which should boost a few sales overall.

 

 

Fable Legends Beta (Oct 16) 

Fable Legends BetaEver since the brilliant Fable 3 launched almost four years ago in 2010, the franchise has gone in a new direction – and it hasn’t been for the better. Fable Heroes was a cute XBLA game that ultimately lacked depth, and Fable: The Journey was a Kinect-only game that can’t be faulted for ambition, but ultimately can be faulted for being an unresponsive Kinect game. Fable Legends is still an experiment in itself as it shifts focus from a singleplayer experience to a multiplayer centric one, and the beta could either win a lot of people over or lose them.

 

Sunset Overdrive (Oct 31)

Sunset OverdriveThere was a hole left in the heart of Playstation fans during Microsoft’s 2013 E3 press conference, the day Insomniac Games’ logo showed up to reveal they were in a partnership with Xbox. Sunset Overdrive looks to set the developer back on track after the bump in the road that was Fuse, and it looks like a pure blend of Infamous and Tony Hawk’s Skateboarding. It’s a shooter alright, but one that doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s been a long time since I’ve booted up my Xbox One and I think Sunset Overdrive is the perfect reason to boot it up again. This could be the start of something beautiful between Insomniac and Microsoft.

 

Halo: The Master Chief Collection (Nov 14) 

Halo MC CollectionWe was all expecting to see the announcement of Halo 2 Anniversary Edition at Microsoft’s E3 this year, right? And we got that.. but we wasn’t expecting to also be getting Halo 3, 4, Combat Evolved, the Nightfall digital series and access to the Halo 5: Guardians Beta all packed in as well. Phew. The Master Chief Collection certainly can’t be accused of lacking content and bang for your buck, then. I’m not even the biggest Halo fan – I’m much more of a Gears of War guy, actually – but how, if you’re a gamer, can you not be looking forward to the release of this behemoth?

 

 

So I think it’s fair to say that the Sony has the weakest lineup of the three then, with Nintendo leading the charge in first place and with Microsoft in a close second. Whether you’re a Sony, Nintendo or Microsoft fan – or two out of three or all three – there should be enough variety to keep you happy just in time for christmas.

Envisioning A Gears of War Collection For Xbox One

When gamers think of Xbox, they think Halo. It’s Microsoft’s number 1 exclusive franchise and has been ever since Halo: Combat Evolved first arrived on the scene in 2001. Master Chief is the face of the company – their poster boy, their golden goose – and doesn’t seem to be running out of steam. And here we are in 2014 on the brink of Halo 2’s 10th anniversary and its being celebrated in style. At this year’s E3 – as if you haven’t already heard – Microsoft unveiled Halo: The Master Chief Collection for the Xbox One. Not only graphically remastering Halo 2’s campaign and select multiplayer maps, but also included is Halo: CE Anniversary, Halo 3, Halo 4, the Halo 5: Guardians beta and the Halo: Nightfall digital series. A pretty cool treat if you ask me and I’m sure Halo fans will agree.

Halo; The Master Chief Collection

 

So now that Halo is receiving the full works, what about Microsoft’s number 2 exclusive franchise Gears of War? We know Microsoft now owns the franchise after purchasing the rights from Epic Games, and we also know the newly formed Black Tusk Studios is working on the next iteration in the Gears of War franchise. But before you know it November 2016 will be upon us, and not only is that a potential release date for the next iteration of Gears, it will also mark the 10th anniversary of Gears of War 1. And as of writing this a Gears of War collection is the second most requested post on Xbox’s feedback website, only being beaten out by people wanting backwards compatibility with the Xbox 360. There’s a demand for it to happen then, and only time will tell if it actually does. Regardless though, this post is just one Gears fan’s vision and potential ideas what the collection could include.

Gears Collection Vote

1) Dedicated Servers For Gears 1 & 2. 

Gears of War 2’s multiplayer is well documented upon fans, and anyone who played it at launch will tell you one thing: it was broken. Lag plagued Gears of War 2’s multiplayer upon launch, to people spawning without a weapon, ridiculous bullet delay even to the point where you had no other choice but to quit – and possibly for good. Many gamers quit Gears of War 2’s multiplayer because of the online issues it had and it may have even been such a bad online experience for some that they never returned; and dare I say the experience was off-putting enough that they might have even quit the franchise for good. Plus Call of Duty: World at War also released in the same month as Gears of War 2 so potentially there was a lot of players that switch over to Cod and players just never returned. Epic obviously learned from their mistake as Gears of War 3 and Judgement had dedicated servers and GoW 3 even had a public multiplayer beta six months prior to launch.

Gears of War 1’s multiplayer didn’t always run smoothly either, however it faired much better because players could choose to host or join a game, whereas GoW 2 seemed to select the host randomly and subsequently caused problems when the host’s connection was weak. This is why it’s pivotal for the Gears Collection to have dedicated servers, and it may even entice players who originally played GoW 2’s multiplayer but quit  early on and never returned.

Broken Gears of War 2 Disc

2) Horde Mode For Gears 1 

Ignoring the lag in GoW 2’s multiplayer for a second and you may remember that GoW 2 introduced the now fan-favourite Horde mode. Now purists out there that regard Gears 1 to be best Gears game may want to see it stay untouched, however I don’t think many will complain about the addition of a new mode, especially when Horde has proven to work – and work well – on many of Gears 1’s maps that were remastered for Gears 2 and 3. So yes, Canals, Gridlock, Mansion, Subway, Tyro Station, Fuel Depot and War Machine were all remade and playable in Horde mode for Gears 2, and Bullet Marsh, Raven Down, Clocktower and Gridlock were playable in Hoarde 2.0 in Gears 3, leaving the question as to why there would even to be Hoarde in Gears 1? Well there’s still plenty of Gears 1 maps that have never been remastered and playable on Horde mode, and those maps are Mausoleum, Rooftops, Old Bones, Garden and Process. Gears of War: Judgement never had a horde mode either but it did have the somewhat similar Survival mode.

Gears 1's 10th anniversary

3) Beta Access For Gears of War 4

Now this one’s obviously going to depend on when Black Tusk plans to release Gears of War 4. It may even launch before November 2016, therefore an inclusion of beta access in the GoW collection is out of the question. However, if Gears 4 isn’t released by the end of 2016 then the inclusion of a multiplayer beta is a logical one. The Gears 3 beta was a great treat for the fans to get hands on with the multiplayer early and wet the appetite before the game’s actual release, as well as providing Epic with player feedback and statistics.

gears 3 beta

4) It Would Be a Test For Black Tusk To See Which Gears Game Is Most Popular

Including all four Gears of War games into one package could be a very interesting experiment, especially in terms of the multiplayer side of things. Black Tusk could very easily monitor the popularity of each Gears game online and could then mould the multiplayer in Gears 4 around whichever game has the most active multiplayer community. If the collection was to release on GoW 1’s 10th anniversary then of course a lot of the focus would already be on Gears 1 and therefore people would be more naturally inclined to play for nostalgia, but Black Tusk could also see which maps and modes are popular too.

Black Tusk

5) A Developer Diary Video Celebrating Gears’ 10th Anniversary   

Yes maybe casual gamers who pick up the Gears collection would just rather play the game(s), but for hardcore fans that have been there from the start, a peek behind the curtain to see how the sausage was made is always interesting. There was a great developer diary included in the special edition of Gears 2, and this time they could take it one step further by interviewing current employees at Black Tusk to ex employees at Epic, and, of course, an interview with the Gears of War Godfather Cliff Blezinski would be a nice treat for fans as well now that he’s moved away from the Gears franchise.

Cliffy B

6) Team Deathmatch for Gears 1 and 2

Adding Team Deathmatch to Gears 3 was probably the biggest risk Epic has made on the multiplayer side of things (excluding the exclusion of Locust from multiplayer in GoW: Judgement, that is). Gears of War 1 and 2 was mainly built around round-by-round multiplayer, and if you died early on in a match then, well, you had to spectate for the remainder of the round. That was the price you paid, until Team Deathmatch came into the fold. Gears of War, to me, will always be about it’s two core multiplayer modes – Execution and Warzone – however the risk of including TDM has obviously paid off as it’s proved to be a wildly popular mode in both GoW 3 and Judgement, right up until to the moment I’m writing this where most people are playing TDM. In this day and age of fast-paced first-person shooters like Call of Duty, Battlefield, Halo and now even Titanfall, players have become accustomed to respawning instantly after dying, and the thought of having to watch a teammate whilst dead instead of jumping right back into the fold is a daunting one – especially to casual players. I can’t imagine diehard Gears fans would like to see TDM in Gears 1 or 2 – especially not in 1 – but again, if it’s included and proves to be the most popular mode, then it could be a risk worth taking.

Gears 1 Multiplayer

7) A Kill-Cam And Video Editor

Gears of War 2 allowed you to take photos when you were spectating in multiplayer, but I really feel like Gears has needed to step up for a while now and include a full in-game video capture and editor. If you get an amazing headshot or clutch 4v1 and you want the world to see it then you should be able to do just that. And what about being able to edit your own videos too? Everyone loves a good montage, but what about a comedic video series? The possibilities are endless with video. Plus Black Tusk could run weekly video series such as top ten kills of the week, top players of the week, and biggest fails of the week, which would not only be fun for the community but they could involve them by allowing players to vote and by rewarding active players in the community.   A kill-cam seems like an obvious inclusion to me also, as it would be nice to see from the perspective of the player who killed you, especially if it’s a nice headshot or a frag grenade thrown from afar. Kill-cams have been prevalent in first-person shooters for many years now but not so much in third-person shooters. Plus it would mean that ultimate end of round humiliation for the player that’s killed as they’d have to watch themselves being killed.

gears photo mode

 

So there you have it. There are my seven things I’d like to see included in the (as of right now hypothetical) Gears of War Collection. But what would you like to see in a Gears of War Collection? Would you even want one at all? Be sure to let me know on Twitter @icon162. Thanks guys, I hoped you enjoyed reading it!