All posts by Jon Ireson

Pre-E3 2018 Roundup: Sony’s ‘Deep Dive’ Strategy

With Xbox falling behind PlayStation in terms of exclusive games lineup and market presence, Sony has taken a different route than usual with this year’s E3 2018 showcase. The PlayStation 4 will be front and center with no new hardware being shown, and the focus being completely on four upcoming PS4 games that are exclusive and mainly being produced in a traditionally “first-party fashion”.

In this article we will discuss what to expect from Sony at this year’s E3 event and how you can watch it from home. The potential for surprises is always there, and game companies have often used misdirection in the past to catch us off guard. However, it does seem that Sony is serious about giving focus to quality over quantity with this year’s event.

It’s also important to remind readers that “in-game” or “gameplay” are heavily abused words in this industry. Just because something is said to be running “in-engine” or any other combination of such terms, it doesn’t mean that’s how the final game will actually look and perform on the console you own. It’s okay to get excited for games, but to avoid a huge letdown upon release, be sure to remember that promotional materials are often doctored up and while they do well to express the spirit of a game they aren’t able to show exactly what it’s like. False hype aside, enjoy the show!

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Entertainment Software Association president Mike Gallagher out of touch, defends loot box scandal

Perhaps one of the last holdouts on the notion that lootboxes aren’t gambling and are ‘A-Okay’, ESA Prez Mike Gallagher took it a step further at Nordic Game Conference at Malmö Central Station in Malmo, Sweden this previous week by championing the well-hated lootbox mechanic as a source of massive revenue increases. In a long-winded, inaccurate, dry speech given to attendees Gallagher argued that lootboxes never left players upset and never “took their money without giving them something”. Belittling government authorities that have banned lootboxes in video games such as Belgium and the Netherlands, Gallagher simply called these “the lowest common denominator” and sought out to discredit those bodies which have done the research and concluded their findings that lootboxes are dangerous items that will lead to long-term addiction and gambling problems for players of games which contain them.

Many journalists, gamers, and developers have often been on the side of self-regulation for the game industry, which Ghallager goes on to promote. However, the opening up of the conversation beginning with such an avid defense of lootboxes perhaps proves that the authorities currently in place to do such self-regulation can no longer be trusted to keep the best interest of gamers in mind. Gaming has always grown massively year over year, and without the help of predatory lootbox micro-transactions that cause addiction and gambling neural pathways to develop in the human brain. This attempt to combine fear of government regulation with defense of lootboxes proves that the ESA cannot be trusted as an ally to gamers anymore.

While a good amount of this mainly empty power-point presentation from Mike Ghallager argued against lootbox regulation, there were a few other strange anti-consumer points attempting to be made as well. Simply allowing predatory or poorly designed monetization systems to roll out in mainstream games then later be patched via feedback was trotted out as a worthy solution to the current problems of the industry. A label of “in-game purchases” that doesn’t specify lootboxes from micro-transactions or expansive downloadable content was also given as a reason why self-regulation is supposedly working. Video game addiction becoming a World Health Organization classification was brought up as well as USA’s research on the potential link between mass shootings and violent video games (which ultimately ended up undecided).

Ghallager attempted to paint the picture of an innocent game industry that did nothing wrong and was under attack by the big, bad wolf. In reality, Star Wars: Battlefront II destroyed the last remaining bit of belief gamers had in the industry to self-regulate and the ESA is now unable to defend itself against government regulation due to their refusal to hold EA Games and companies like it accountable for their misdeeds. In short, it has become impossible for the ESA to speak out against defamation of the games industry by the World Health Organization and be taken seriously since they have proven they are simply shills for large gaming corporations and don’t care about their own consumers’ well-being.

If Mike Gallagher truly believes the things he said on stage this week, then he’s part of the executive abuse of game developers and video game customers going on which is a plague on this industry. If he doesn’t believe the things he said, and is “just doing his job” as many claim, then he should resign to give some one with more spine a chance to stand up to the forces controlling the ESA through special interest funding deals designed to neuter their ability to represent real gamers.

Atelier Lydie & Suelle ~ The Alchemists and the Mysterious Paintings 1.01 Update Released in North America

The latest alchemy role playing game from development studio Gust recently received its first patch in North America. This 1.01 patch adds significant gameplay upgrades to the existing base game which we found to be very fun and addictive in our Launch Week Impressions of the PlayStation 4 Pro edition.

Update 1.01, which released in Japan some time back, adds in 3 new skills for each playable character, increases boss fight levels from 100 to 200, and most importantly allows players to level up to 100 instead of just 50 as most previous titles restricted the game to.

While some of the other features in future patches of the Japanese version of this game were already included in the title at launch, such as background music from past Atelier games, there is still expected to be more forthcoming content both for free and paid in regards to the game’s DLC path.

This is including, but not limited to; even more nostalgic music from the franchise, additional boss fights such as Sophie, Nights of Azure 2 crossover content, high end recipes, more exploration equipment, adding rare items to the game, a special merchant, more playable characters such as Lucia, more outfits including swimsuits, a secret recipe book containing various elements from past Atelier games, quests that can be used to grind/farm large amounts of XP or Coll, and more.

There’s even special events for characters, new areas, and powerful trinkets. Publishing house Koei Tecmo and development studio Gust have done a fantastic job of bringing over this localized version of the game to North America. And, even though there is no English dubbed version of the game, fans can rest assured that the Japanese voice acting has been paired with decent English subtitles.

Our full review is still on the way, as the game itself contains dozens upon dozens of hours of storyline content, side-quest content, and a generally open challenge for creating the best and most efficient alchemy recipes. Mysterious Paintings is a game that keeps on giving and is available now on PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation Vita, and Windows PC (via Steam).

John Marston Joins Arthur Morgan for New Red Dead Redemption 2 Story Trailer

Rockstar Games has released their third trailer for the upcoming open world game set in the wild, wild west. Red Dead Redemption 2 is a prequel to the PlayStation 3 / Xbox 360 hit title Red Dead Redemption which released in May of 2010 after stealing the show at the E3 event of that respective year. It had one of the largest wrap-around lines I’ve ever seen for a behind-closed-doors showing of a game for which not much was known at the time.

In RDR 2 players will find themselves learning a lot more about the time period before the events of Red Dead Redemption. As the trailer opens we see that the gang of outlaws which RDR’s main protagonist used to run with is on the run in a time when outlaws were becoming a thing of the past. The clip tells viewers that the game is at least partially set in 1899 when ‘the west had nearly been tamed’ and ‘the age of gunslingers and outlaws had almost passed into myth’.

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Rumor: PlayStation 5 Dev Kits, Dedicated Graphics Card, and… Holograms !?!?

Recently every gaming website and YouTuber has had something to say about the rumor that Sony could launch the next-generation at the end of this year. PlayStation 5 coming in 2018? Not likely. But what truth sparked this curiosity which slowly grew out of control? Why do people think this, and what can we learn from the situation?

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South Korea punishes game companies for lootboxes with ₩1 Billion Won ($945,200 US Dollars) in fines

With governments around the world finally picking up the slack on their tech knowledge and holding corporate giants accountable for data breaches as well as predatory, anti-consumer practices, South Korea joins the United Kingdom, United States of America, Belgium, and Australia in educating their politicians and going after those tech companies which abuse their power.

An investigation has began to expand in the video games sector of corporate crime as reported by outlets in the sovereign nation just south of the famous conflict zone and they aren’t taking lightly to lootboxes in which players wager money against a desired outcome.

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Rainbow Moon Revisited

Recently PlayStation Network had a massive sale on various titles including Rainbow Moon and I took this as an opportunity to check out a unique looking turn-based SRPG (strategy role playing game) which I normally might not have given a chance to. I selected hard mode and an adventurous start, which in this game means you literally embark on a new world with no items other than the most basic sword to begin with. The resulting hours of gameplay were fascinating and left me wondering why I haven’t heard more about this game before.

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Why you’re wrong, Radical Heights isn’t like other Battle Royale games

Update: This game was released in Early Access to initial success but later lost most if its active player-base who likely returned to other Battle Royale games. Boss Key Productions has cancelled the game and will be shutting down servers in the near future as well as issuing refunds to eveyrone who paid for the game. The article below represents our initial excitement for a new take on the Battle Royale genre, but sadly Radical Heights just wasn’t meant to be.

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Resident Evil VII Revisited

His wife was thought to be dead for the past three years, missing, lied to her husband, in over her head in some sinister abduction scenario in the swampy bayou of Louisiana. Now against all better judgment he must pursue the smallest chance that she’s still alive, or at the very least find out what happened to her. But when she sent communications back home and told him to stay away, it was for good reason…

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