Ben's Week In Review: January 10
Are you in the midst of playing a ton of games you bought on sale (or were given) over the holidays?
Yes, Assassin's Creed can skip a year...and it'll be like The Witcher?!
As much as I love the series, I've been saying for years that Ubisoft could afford to skip a year with the Assassin's Creed series. Some entries just felt superfluous; a good example of that was Assassin's Creed Revelations.
And while one could make a perfectly legitimate argument that last year's Assassin's Creed Syndicate was the best entry yet, I still don't mind if we don't have a new installment in 2016. The rumor - which I'm assuming is accurate - says that no Assassin's Creed will launch this year, and that the next iteration is a "reboot" of sorts. They also say we'll be headed to ancient Egypt, which sounds interesting, but the lack of intricate and insanely high architecture to climb might make the experience seem somewhat flat by comparison. That's merely conjecture, though, and I know Egyptian civilizations had plenty of huge structures beyond the pyramids. What interested me most about the rumor was that Ubisoft was adopting a structure similar to that of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.
That's a fantastic idea and I hope more developers do it. I know open-world dominates and will continue to dominate, and linear adventures - like turn-based mechanics - will be viewed as "old-fashioned" and ultimately relegated to the small-budget/indie titles on the PSN or mobile platforms. Idiotic, of course, but whatever. If every game in existence absolutely has to be open-world/sandbox in nature, I would at least prefer a Witcher approach because it breaks up such a gigantic world and makes it feel accessible. It's not ridiculously overwhelming and not only do we have all the depth in the world, it's also streamlined and focused if you choose to follow the narrative. It's one of the big reasons why I elected to give Wild Hunt overall Game of the Year.
Pachter is probably right
I've been wondering about this for a while now: If 4K is suddenly so widely accessible to so many, and none of the current video game systems can support that resolution, won't they feel old a lot sooner than any of us initially thought? Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter says this rapid embracing of 4K might indeed result in a shorter console cycle this time around. Of course, last generation was just crazy; it was the longest this industry has ever seen, with PS3 going for 7 years and Xbox 360 for 8. "Generational fatigue" among developers and gamers was a very real thing toward the end. And while PS4 and Xbox One have only been out for a couple years, new technology might demand new gaming hardware sooner than either Microsoft or Sony might want. Don't forget that virtual reality requires more power as well; PlayStation VR needs an external processor, for instance.
I know Nintendo is supposed to release their new system later this year and although I'm trying to remain hopeful, I'm pretty sure it won't be some massive powerhouse. Therefore, considering 4K and VR - not to mention that most games really can't hit the max benchmarks of 1080p and 60fps right now - I guess consumers will be demanding better gaming hardware. But I'm still not sold on VR, nor am I sold on gamers embracing it as quickly as some experts believe. Sony's pretty pretty heavily invested, though...
Personal gaming update
I want to actually restart Syndicate and play it the way I've always wanted to play it, as opposed to continuing my review save file. I've also been playing a lot of Rocket League, which is just silly fun. I've got almost everything unlocked and me and my brother play online every now and then; it's pretty much the only game I actually want to play online these days. I had hoped I'd love the rebooted Amplitude but the lack of music variety is just a deal-breaker for me. Not only do I have little to no respect for techno or electronica, but this lack of diversity affects the gameplay of such a title because the notes and tracks are never that much different. The only thing they can really do is alter the speed because let's face it, you'll pretty much never find a vocals or guitar track that's all that complex.
Not much going on in January but I know Far Cry Primal comes out in February. I usually don't like this series but with Ubisoft dropping the multiplayer to focus on the single-player narrative, I'm suddenly intrigued.
1/9/2016 Ben Dutka