The Wednesday letters page is very impressed by the Unreal Engine 5 train station demo, as one reader recommends GRID Legends.
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Jo Casual’s favourite game
So there we have it. EA has pulled the plug on FIFA and this year’s will be the last one… except it won’t because someone else will end up publishing FIFA 24 next year. I mean, surely that’s the point? EA didn’t keep the name because everybody knows it, they kept it to stop someone else having another game with exactly the same name.
Say Ubisoft bought the licence, for example. If Jo Casual sees a new game called FIFA 24 in the shop he’s just going to buy it, isn’t? He’s not going to look over the box (as if anyone buys boxes anymore) and then realise his mistake when there’s no little EA logo on the cover.
It will probably be true that EA Sports FC won’t be very different to FIFA 23, but I would imagine that FIFA 24, by a publisher that is not EA, will be a completely different game. This is going to cause a lot of confusion, a lot of nonsense marketing, and frankly I’m tired of it already.
The only way this is a good thing is if one side says that they’re not going to do lootboxes or NFTs or any other anti-consumer nonsense. But let’s face it, that’s never going to happen.
Wow, that Unreal Engine 5 demo of the train station is amazing. If you’d shown me that and said it was real life I would’ve absolutely believed. There’s no people in it, for obvious reasons because they’re much harder to replicate than just metal and concrete, but even so. It feels like we’re on the cusp of being able to replicate reality almost perfectly.
It’s true we won’t get any game looking this game for a while, except maybe some kind of walking sim with no people in it (which is the case for a lot of them) but if this follows the normal rules of Unreal Engine it means next gen this sort of thing will be fairly standard. That’s pretty exciting if you ask me!
Last minute cancellation
So Gotham Knights is out in October and this is the first proper bit of gameplay footage we’ve ever seen? What a mess. And now it’s not even being released on last gen consoles because… reasons? Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for stopping cross-gen games and getting on with the new gen properly, but I don’t think this really counts.
Is the game going to make use of SSDs in a way last gen consoles couldn’t? No, it was never designed for that. Are the graphics so amazing they couldn’t be done on the last gen? No, not even close. Is there any obvious reason for either the cancellation or the lack of information? No, other than that the game probably barely works and the only way they could avoid another Cyberpunk 2077 is just by junking the old version. Like I say, a mess.
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Bit of a legend
I felt compelled to write in and say how much I’ve been enjoying GRID Legends. Your review was pretty much spot on, it’s a bit rough around the edges and the soundtrack is extremely limited and annoying, but it’s not without its charm. The racing is genuinely amongst the best arcade racing I’ve ever played on a console!
It’s worth ramping the difficulty right up and just getting stuck in too, because it’s no challenge on normal or hard. I’ve long been a fan of the GRID games but it’s a shame that this one launched when it did amongst Horizon Forbidden West, Elden Ring, and Gran Turismo 7 because as a result it’s likely to be completely overlooked by most – well worth the £35 I paid for it though!
GC: You’re right, coming out a week before Gran Turismo 7 was silly.
The biggest problem that Halo Infinite has is the fact it was never finished. It still isn’t finished today and what is effectively an early access version of Halo is being sold as the complete package. The new season has just brought in two game modes that are effectively the same: King of the Hill and Land Grab. There are still game modes missing that Halo should have but they will be released as brand new features.
343 have always struggled when it has come to Halo and elements of this seem to be that combined with a Cyberpunk 2077 situation of announcing a game before it is ready. Despite it pulling influence from a number of different games, at its core it’s an enjoyable experience and feels like Halo.
It was just never finished and epitomises the gaming industry today, selling half a game and offering what should be there already as brand new. I love Halo, I just feel that it’s like many others that would be a much better experience coming back a year or two in the future when it’s finally finished.
Did anyone else get the feeling when playing the campaign that it could have been so much better in the hands of Bungie? Like 343 had made the Halo game that Bungie wanted to make but 10 years too late?
RE: Grateful Father’s conundrum of how an £80 charge was made to his credit card. As it happens, I work for a very large UK based bank and I deal with the infrastructure of credit card payments, bit of a busman’s holiday letter this one.
So I had two thoughts:
1. There is no way to bypass the credit card checks, if an £80 transaction was requested by Sony (via his account) it could never be stealth approved or anything like that. There is no ‘back door’ for applying transactions on credit cards. So the only way it could be have been applied without your knowledge is fraud. Ruling out that, one cannot help but wonder, the young lad is telling porkies and he does know the password after all.
This leaves the possibility of fraud or a data quality issue with how Sony or EA are charging to credit cards. It could be that a transaction their side was requested twice, or in error. I would say these are very, very unlikely (but not impossible!), but an issue like that is even more unlikely to have only affected one person. An issue with data or card charges, as was reported in the press recently with TSB double sending payments out of current accounts, is usually due to a system wide change which affects thousands of customers.
2. Seeing as it was via a credit card there is good news though, raise a disputed payment with the bank. Say you don’t recognise the transaction, it’s fraud or an error, and if confirmed as such it will be refunded pretty quickly. As it was via your credit card, and you’ve already tried to resolve with the merchant (Sony in this case) you should be able to give the bank details and they will take it up with Sony (although it does rather sound like Sony will be able to prove the transaction was genuinely requested, but who knows – give it a try).
I’d also get your password changed just in case (and enable the very excellent two-step verification if you haven’t already) and it should never happen again. And I don’t know if it helps, it may be teaching your grandmother to suck eggs here, but in my settings on my PlayStation 5 I have it selected so you never need the password for a transaction, might be worth double checking that one too.
You might find this interesting, but I beat Returnal using melee only. What makes this special is that I am the only person still to do it.
Of course, I have the whole playthrough recorded and will provide a link to it.
AAA on a budget
Regarding Marc’s concerns about next gen development costs, I do think it’s within the gift of these businesses to be more sensible about how they use and control their budgets.
The current frontrunner for game of the year is an AAA game that, at least in some important territories, has sold more copies than any other game from the past year. I think its success has at least partly been down to the developer focusing on the right areas (and even recycling assets and other older work), instead of blowing so much resource on the sort of painstaking motion capture and lip-synching for every character model, or barely interactive spectacle, that we see in games that have been less successful.
No, Elden Ring isn’t exclusive to next gen and it doesn’t really exploit new gen tech in any meaningful way but since we’re also including Nintendo in the conversation, I think they’re also getting something right if they only move on to more powerful tech when the games they want to make can’t be made using what they have; as opposed to moving on due to pressures from other parties and then trying to figure out how to make the most of their new circumstances.
I own a PlayStation 5 and have really enjoyed it but its best exclusive, Returnal, doesn’t strike me as having an untenable budget compared to many big hitters from last gen. That doesn’t mean I regret paying more for the new tech, as my simple philosophy is to go where the games I’m most interested in are.
Eventually there’ll be great games that, in a meaningful way, can’t possibly be done on older tech and my hope is that doesn’t have to result in them costing an unfeasible amount to make. And if there are higher costs associated with delivering a genuinely new experience, I don’t see why sensible compromises can’t be made on other fronts to help mitigate the financial risk, in the same way FromSoftware has clearly been doing for over a decade.
I was surprised to learn that some people have been complaining about the graphics in Return To Monkey Island. I thought they looked really good. What are people asking for? Pixel graphics? Photorealism? I don’t get it.
Fun bit of trivia to come from Nintendo’s financial results: Breath Of The Wild has now outsold every 3D Zelda combined, not counting re-releases. No wonder they want to get the sequel just right.
This week’s Hot Topic
The subject for this weekend’s Inbox was suggested by reader Gadfly, who asks what you feel is the most overrated video game ever?
It doesn’t necessarily have to be viewed as a classic but what general consensus do you disagree with the most, when it comes to highly rated games? Why do you disagree and were you surprised to find out that you held a minority opinion about the game?
Do you often find yourself disagreeing about games in this way and if not why do you think it happened in this instance? Can you see what it is that others liked about the game or is it completely unappealing to you?
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The small print
New Inbox updates appear every weekday morning, with special Hot Topic Inboxes at the weekend. Readers’ letters are used on merit and may be edited for length and content.
You can also submit your own 500 to 600-word Reader’s Feature at any time, which if used will be shown in the next available weekend slot.
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