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PS4 Pro Reveal–Good for Gamers, Bad for Sony

playstation-4-pro-vertical-product-shot-01-us-07sep16The big PlayStation Meeting event yesterday was pretty much a disaster for Sony, and one that didn’t need to happen. If you missed the press event (and you did not miss much), you can read the details over on the PlayStation blog.

My takeaway from the PS4 Pro reveal was that if you don’t own a 4K TV, there is literally no reason for you to even care about the new version of the console. That, and the fact that Sony is leaving it up to developers to take advantage of the PS4 Pro’s additional capabilities to me means that there will be a whole lof of devs that don’t even bother (see Kinect, Move, the WiiU tablet, etc.).

Sony did a lousy job of messaging the PS4 Pro, and actually gave Microsoft the opportunity to cut the legs out from under them immediately following the PlayStation event:


So, if you’re interested in 4K gaming, you can grab the Xbox One S for $100 cheaper than the PS4 Pro will be when it launches November 10th. If you’re interested in 4K gaming and are planning on getting the PSVR, then your best option is the Pro.

I feel like this is a completely unnecessary error on Sony’s part. There is absolutely no reason for them to be launching the PS4 Pro right now. They are winning the console war. They have their VR headset coming out in October, and it will be compatible with existing PS4s. The only good reason to reveal the Pro would have been if it had the PSVR capability built in and you didn’t need the external box that comes with PSVR. But that’s not the case. Sony is saying PSVR will be “better” with PS Pro, but with the exception of improved visuals, what exactly does that mean? Any way you cut it, the PS4 Pro seems unnecessary, especially from the company that is already winning the console war. The slim reveal would have been just fine. The PS4 is already great. I love mine and do most of my gaming on it.

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So why is this actually good for gamers, then? Because the PS4 Pro is not going to fracture the PlayStation user base like it could have, any more than the Xbox One S did to that user base. Both of these consoles are mainly graphical improvements over the originals, similar to one PC gamer having a slightly better graphics card than another. At the end of the day, unless you are a 4K TV owner and care about such things, there is not much reason to care. And, if you’ve been waiting on getting a PS4, you now have more options. If I was just jumping in, I would be keeping my eye out for a price drop or some sweet bundles on the original models, as stores get rid of their existing stock to make way for the slim.

Now the Scorpio? That’s a whole different story, and that’s much closer to an Xbox 1.5 from what we’ve seen so far. That will have the potential to split Microsoft’s user base, and they should be watching everything that happens in wake of this PS4 fiasco. The difference for Microsoft is that they are behind, so they need to shake things up.

Sony did not. We’ll see if this comes back to bite them.

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The More Info That leaks About The Nintendo NX, The More Excited I Get For It

Over at Let’s Play Video Games today, Laura Dale provided some updates to information that has been leaking on the upcoming Nintendo NX (you can read that article here).

So, we’ve been hearing for a while now that it would be a tablet-like unit with detachable controllers, but eh first diagrams that leaked had me questioning how that was going to work for local multiplayer. In those early concept images, both of the detachable controls had an analog stick, but one had buttons while the other had a D-pad.

In the most recent info though, it’s not being reported that the D-pad will be split (like the PS4 D-pad), meaning there is a distinct button for each direction. This makes a lot of sense, as it means that the four direction buttons can double as face buttons, making both detachable controllers able to function in the same way.

This seems like a super small detail, but I’m really excited about it.

So, it looks like the NX will be region-free, will use cartridges and will be able to hook up to your TV for big screen gaming. As a mobile device it can be used for either single-layer gaming or local multiplayer.

Most importantly, this looks to finally be the fusion of Nintendo’s handheld and TV consoles that I have been wanting for years. I can’t wait until we hear some definitive news from Nintendo in September!!

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Madden 17–First Impressions

CiSa-2LWsAA09q7I honestly cannot remember the last time I bought a Madden game. My peak Madden-playing time was during the SEGA Genesis era, and during that time I bought and played Madden every single year. But when I got a PlayStation, I moved over to NFL Gameday, and later the 2K series, before dropping out of most sports games altogether. Couch co-op is just not something I really have with my friends anymore (we are spread out across the country), and many of my gaming friends now are not into sports games at all.

And yet, I bought Madden 17.

I’m still not sure why, but I think it was a mix of two things–the fact that my fantasy football draft was this past weekend, and the fact that I actually had the money to buy the game (which is a rare occurrence these days). I’d also heard some good things about this year’s iteration, so I decided to grab it.

And you know what? Madden 17 makes a pretty great first impression.

You literally start the game late in the fourth quarter of a playoff game between Redskins and the Rams. You’re thrown right into the action, and while it’s a bit scripted, the success or failure of your comeback attempt is completely up to you. I stalled out on the one yardline as time expired, and I lost. But it was a great way to get introduced to this year’s Madden.

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After that, the game asks you what level you want to start playing at. The Rookie level is for those completely new to Madden, and the Pro level is for those who’ve played sports games, but aren’t Madden experts. All-Pro and All-Madden are for the folks who are very well-versed in Madden games.

I chose Pro, and dove into the very robust tutorial system, which is actually pretty fun. In addition to doing the usual offensive and defensive drills, you can test your skill in the Gauntlet, a survival-style mode where you have to complete challenges to keep going. If you fail a certain amount of times, you’re done. The game keeps track of what your personal best is, so it makes you want to keep coming back to best your score. This is a really smart way of incentivising practice, and I already spent more time in it than any previous tutorial mode in a sports game.

So, my first impression of Madden 17 is that it’s very welcoming to both new and old players, and offers a fun way to learn both the basics and more advanced systems of the game. I’ll be writing more about my experience with the game when I jump into season mode soon.

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Games We’re Excited About: September 2016

September is weird this year.

Usually we anticipate September as the beginning of the big games release season. But September 2016 will be known more for hardware news than game releases, as we expect concrete news on both the PlayStation Neo and the Nintendo NX. On the game release front, there are more remasters we’re looking forward to than new releases, but one collection in particular is more than enough to carry us through to October. Here’s what we’re excited about:

 

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BioShock: The Collection (Xbox One, PS4, PC)–September 13th

The Bioshock series is easily one of the greatest trilogies of all time, and I can’t wait to jump into this remastered collection. And it’s great to see Bioshock 2 included, because it’s a fantastic game, even if it wasn’t developed by Irrational. In some ways, I think it’s even better than its predecessor. Now I’m just waiting on Dead Space to get the same treatment and our desert island game collection will be complete.

 

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Dead Rising Triple Pack (Xbox one, PS4, PC)–September 13th/September 27th

As much as I tried to get into the Dead Rising games in the past, it was their clunky control schemes that put me off. But this bundle with Dead Rising, Dead Rising 2 and DR2: Off the Record has me wanting to give the series another go. As a huge Romero fan, the mall setting of the first one is a real draw for me.

 

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ReCore (Xbox one, PC)–September 13th

An adventure game made by the creators behind the Metroid Prime and Mega Man? Yes, please. ReCore centers around Joule, a girl who wakes up from cryosleep to find the Earth is a wasteland.

 

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Adr1ft (Xbox one)–September 16th

In this game you take on the role of an astronaut marooned in space after the destruction of a space station. You have to try and repair an escape ship while finding clues about what happened to the station, as you have no memory of what occurred. This game feels like it could have a SOMA vibe to it, and that alone makes it worth checking out for me.

 

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Destiny: Rise of Iron (Xbox one, PS4)–September 20th

To be honest, I fell out of love with Destiny a while ago. Once my friends had gotten many levels ahead of me, the game became a lot less fun, and the gameplay loop had long since lost its luster for me. But I had a lot of fun with Destiny originally, and anytime new content is released, it’s something I’m going to check out.

 

So, that’s our list of September releases we’re looking forward to. What’s on your list? Let us know in the comments.

 

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No Man’s Sky–First Impressions

I spent about an hour and a half with Hellos Games’ No Man’s Sky last night, and the experience has been kicking around my brain since I put the controller down. In some ways it’s the game I hoped it would be, and in others it’s something entirely different. But it’s absolutely fascinating, and I can already tell I will be losing days of my life to this game over the next several months, at least.

No Man’s Sky throws you right into the deep end to begin with–you awaken after having crash landed on a random planet, and you must find resources to repair your ship and keep yourself alive. And that’s the first thing that kind of surprised me about the game–there’s a really big survival element to it. The resource management (which you have to do for your suit and your ship) was interesting, and I had to make a few difficult decisions fairly early on as far as what to keep and what to discard.

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In addition to managing your resources, there are robotic enemies that you encounter early on, and it’s the one part of the game I didn’t enjoy at all. These Sentinel bots roam around the planet, and if you draw their attention, they attack. Fight back, and your wanted level goes up (like GTA and Saints Row), and then things get ugly. So, I found myself regularly on the run from them, and I died to them about five minutes into the game. I finally figured out that mining a lot of resources in a particular area can draw them to you, so I was more careful, but for me it added a layer of tension that I was not looking for.

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The interface is very reminiscent to the one in Destiny, which actually helped me acclimate to it without much of a problem. I did have to increase the look sensitivity right away, as I felt very sluggish on the default setting. There isn’t a lot of hand-holding being done by the game either, and you can pretty much completely go it alone if you decline an early offer for guidance. That’s what I did, and while I got confused at times, I’m glad I just sort of went with it.

Because exploring in No Man’s Sky is amazing.

The scope of this game is mind-boggling. The planet that I’m on has enough resources, outposts, crashed ships and other secrets that I could probably spend a dozen hours in just this one place. It’s huge. To think that there are an almost infinite number of them out there that I could do the same with is just crazy. I actually jumped into an underground cavern at one point to avoid a Sentinel, and wandered around for a solid 25 minutes before I found the surface again. I honestly thought at one point I was trapped. And when I did come out, I stumbled upon an outpost and met a trader where I was able to upgrade my Multi-Tool and trade a bunch of the resources I collected.

NMS Trader

I also found a distress signal for a crashed ship that I was able to track down and then claim as my own.  And now that I have a ship and it’s repaired, I can explore the rest of this planet before I head out into open space.

So far, No Man’s Sky feels pretty epic. You can expect plenty of gameplay videos on both the Co-Op Critics and Let’s Play Quietly YouTube pages over the next several weeks.

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Co-Op Critics Podcast–Overwatch

In the latest episode of the Co-Op Critics podcast, Brian and Nick discuss our game of the month, Overwatch, look at some of August’s releases, and talk about what else they’re playing for the rest of the summer.

You can listen to the episode right here in the player above, or check us out on iTunes and Spreaker. You can also listen to back episodes on our podcast page. We’ll be catching up on a bunch of games over the remainder of the summer, so check out the YouTube page for all kids of videos and discussion.