Ben's Week In Review: March 20
I know the entire world is talking about PlayStation VR but I think we've covered that enough, so I'll go with other news for this week's summary.
Final Fantasy XV on September 30? That might work
Seems the cat is out of the bag concerning the worldwide launch date for Final Fantasy XV and if accurate, I like its positioning. Granted, I have no interest in the game but in terms of potential success, I think summer's end gives the title the best chance of success. I don't believe this franchise has the necessary pull anymore to compete with the current blockbusters during the fall rush; it would be terribly overshadowed by this year's new Call of Duty, for instance, and Watch Dogs 2 (which will likely take the place left vacant by Assassin's Creed in 2016) will be huge as well. We don't even know all the AAA titles scheduled for the fourth quarter yet, but I'm sure FFXV wouldn't fare well if it had to battle those games in October and November. September 30 seems just early enough: The hype is just getting rolling for the fall but nothing is really out yet, and we'll probably be coming off a pretty dry summer.
I don't see too many significant titles slated for July and August and typically, gamers are champing at the bit for hot new games after the mostly empty summer months. Therefore, FFXV could get a lot of attention if it lands in between that middle-year drought and the end-year blitz. And for the record, while I have no interest, I never once said the game will be of poor quality. I don't believe it will be. I just know it barely retains the elements of a role-playing game and I think the action is paramount, where how you press the buttons is just as - if not more - important than your planning and strategy. That's not what I turn to FF for and I never will.
PSN and Xbox Live players together? ...well, whatever
Another huge piece of information overshadowed by PSVR was Microsoft's open invitation, as it were. It gave everyone the hope (or fear?) that PlayStation Network and Xbox Live players would some day come together playing online. Sony didn't refuse the offer but, in addition to reminding everyone that they helped champion cross-platform online functionality with Final Fantasy XI on PS2 and PC, they did say they were "happy to have the conversation." Not being a big multiplayer lover, this news doesn't really affect me much but I can see how big of an impact it would have. It's up to developers to make this work, of course, and I wonder where game makers stand on the issue. Is there an obvious benefit to enabling cross-platform play between Live and the PSN? Are there also disadvantages? It could actually hurt hardware sales, as a gamer would no longer have to say, "well damn, all my friends have PS4 and they're playing together, but I can't play because I've only got Xbox One."
Now, that person might go out and get a PS4. The reverse could also be true, regarding a PS4 player with friends who tend to play together on Live. But even so, if we're only talking about a few games here and there, I'm not sure it would matter much. I have heard PSN players scoffing at the idea, saying they have no interest in playing with the "screaming kids" on Xbox Live. I don't doubt for a second that the average age of a Live player is significantly lower than that of a PSN player, and I've heard many of my multiplatform-owning friends say the maturity level on Live is indeed a lot lower. Of course, it's not like the PSN is a bastion of civility and good manners but there is a difference, I believe.
Personal gaming update
I've been plugging away at Tom Clancy's The Division; expect to see the review later on Monday. It's a fun game and well worth your attention if you're looking for a relatively fresh, in-depth, multiplayer experience with more of a brain than standard online experiences. I do have a few minor reservations but for the most part, I'm happy with Ubisoft's effort. Same goes for the new Hitman, which is absolutely fantastic for stealth fanatics. It's nice to see a developer that understands and acknowledges its fans, and gives them what they deserve: An upgraded, expanded-upon, properly advanced version of the series they love. It's an evolution while remaining loyal to the genre. It's not hard, Square Enix; you just refused to do it with your endless "must cater to the masses!" mantra tainting every move you've made in the last decade.
And of course, I'm understandably excited now that Uncharted 4: A Thief's End has gone gold. I think we all knew the last delay of a couple weeks would be the last, as it was merely a manufacturing hold-up and didn't involve actual development. At any rate, I'm good with May 10; it'll give me time to tackle and finish the Ratchet & Clank remake. Every time they release new media for that game, I come away very impressed. Lastly, one note about PlayStation VR: I obviously won't be pre-ordering the Launch Bundle and I won't be involved in VR entertainment of any kind, but yes, I will try it at some point. Not boarding this particular hype train has little to do with the product itself; it's merely a personal thing, and I do believe it will satisfy a great many.
Oh, and P.S.: Finally got that ultimate outfit - the Aegis - for Evie in Assassin's Creed Syndicate! :)
3/19/2016 Ben Dutka