It’s time for another Weekend Whammy my friends, and this week I’m going to be talking about Death Stranding, Destroy All Humans! and Ubisoft’s implosion. I mean, I will be if I can get my head on straight. With some of the restrictions lifting my youngest niece was able to come around and stay for the night. And for the next night. And the night after that. And then another one, just to be sure. I don’t think I’ll ever be the same again. Man, that kid can talk!
I did stick up a few things since the last Weekend Whammy, starting with a review of the GT Omega Apex wheel stand. It’s a solid piece of kit if you’re looking for something more stable than a table to clamp your wheel onto. There’s a good amount of adjustability too, so the majority of people should be able to get it to fit them just right.
I also spent about 4,000 words attempting to explain my feelings about The Last of Us Part 2. I don’t think I did a very good job, but hopefully, you managed to glean my meaning. Despite the divide, the game seemingly caused the sales have been impressive, with at least 4-million copies having already been sold. Apparently, it’s the fastest-selling PS4 exclusive ever, too. Again, it shows that what you see on the Internet doesn’t always reflect reality.
And the last piece of content I posted was a list of the best games of the year so far! I’d love to hear what games are up there for you guys and whether you think they’ll still be in the running for your personal game of the year when 2020 finally comes to an end.
As for what I’m playing and what I’ll be reviewing, I’ve been spending a lot of time hiking hills in Death Stranding now that it’s out on PC. What I can say with certainty right now is that Death Stranding is 100% a Kojima game, for better or for worse. I’m about 7-hours in right now and my mind is still reeling from the sheer volume of insanity the game is throwing at me. There are babies you carry around in pods, bodies that will blow up if they aren’t taken to an incinerator, rain that ages anything it touches, strange ghosts, something is wrong with dying and you can throw poop grenades. What the fuck is going on!?
It’s the strangest thing because I can’t say I’m enjoying playing Death Stranding, but at the same time, I have an overwhelming urge to keep playing it. A lot of the game is literally just walking vast distances with nothing of note happening. Yet it’s compulsively dull, a zen-like experience where you can stick on a podcast or something in the background and relax as you run back and forth delivering packages.
I’m not a fan of some of its mechanics, mind you. In particular, the BT sections so far are just tedious rather than tense or enjoyable. And the U.I. is a right pain in the backside.
I don’t know when the review will go up yet, because from what I can tell it’s a bloody big game and I need to see the end before I feel happy putting anything up. Guess I have some long nights ahead of me.
I’ve also played and finished the upcoming Destroy All Humans remake that’s due for launch on July 27th. Sadly I can’t say anything else about Destroy All Humans until July 26th when the review embargo officially lifts. There’s plenty of demo footage though, so you can already get a good idea of the quality of the remake. I’m hopeful that if the sales numbers are good we’ll get to see the sequel being remade.
But while I can’t talk about the remake I can ramble about the brilliant original. I freaking loved the B-movie style and the fact I got to play as the invading alien intent on wiping out humanity. I actually replayed the original a few weeks back. To be honest, the gameplay doesn’t hold up so well these days, but the humour is still terrific and the overall tone is great. Thankfully as you can see from the demo gameplay the way Destroy All Humans! plays is a lot smoother now.
I did also snag a copy of Ghosts of Tsushima, but I haven’t even installed it yet. I want to, I really do. It looks amazing, and I’ve watched heaps of reviews and Let’s Plays that have gotten me even more hyped. However, I’m focusing on Death Stranding and Destroy All Humans because I got review code for those and publishers do rightfully expect reviews in a reasonable time-frame. Ghost of Tsushima will be getting installed soon, though, because I’ve wrapped up Destroy All Humans.
Easily the biggest story of the past week or two is Ubisoft’s implosion. Obviously, the industry as a whole has been rocked with a wave of sexual assault allegations, abuse allegations and more. Now Ubisoft has been struck as well, seemingly much harder than anywhere else with what appears, at least from the outside, to be rampant problems with the human resource department, higher-ups and more. As a result numerous execs have stepped down and the company is apparently going to be implementing a sweeping series of changes to hopefully address the issues.
There’s a lot that could be said. First, it’s difficult to accept Ubisoft’s behavior as being benevolent. The ousting of many high-ranking officials and the promise of major changes comes across more as a PR move because it’s difficult to believe that if these allegations are true that nobody knew about them. Accusations include meetings being held in strip clubs and a general feel of being a boys club with constant sexist remarks and even full-blown sexual assault, all of which was apparently ignored by the HR department. If true, this was a company-wide problem and surely those in charge should have noticed something was amiss?
With that said, it’s also to important to remember that allegations are just that: allegations. They don’t equate to guilt nor to innocence. Sadly things like abusive behavior, sexual misconduct, and the like are some of the most difficult things to factually prove. That makes them easy to hide, but it also makes them easy to fabricate. At this point, it’s a person’s word against another, and it’s impossible for us to know if every allegation is true or if some are exaggerated or if some are perhaps even entirely false. It’s not nice to consider people’s lives being ruined or made miserable by a false accusation, and likewise it isn’t nice to consider someone getting away with horrendous behavior.
The final point to consider is that Ubisoft is freaking huge, so I suppose statistically you’re always going to wind up with arseholes somewhere. That doesn’t excuse them and obviously they should be rooted out and tossed onto the street. But there are many who will use this as grounds to declare things like sexist and racist culture in the industry as a whole. Perhaps it’s true, but for now it seems more like these sad excuses for human beings are, generally, the small minority.
Moving on, Microsoft have been doing a few interesting things lately, starting with the fact that they’ve announced plans to fold Project xCloud streaming into Game Pass at no extra cost for Game Pass Ultimate members. That’s absurdly good value, I reckon, although at the moment you can only use xCloud to stream to tablets and mobile devices. That’s probably a good thing because if I could stream to other devices I’d have almost zero reason to actually own an Xbox. As it is Game Pass Ultimate already lets me play a lot of titles, including Xbox “exclusives” on PC.
Meanwhile Microsoft have been busy taking some stuff away. You can no longer buy a 12-month Xbox Live Gold subscription, although one month and three month subscriptions are still available. So far Microsoft haven’t said why they’ve done this, only that it wasn’t an accident. They told TrueAchievements that, “At this time, Xbox has decided to remove the 12 months Xbox Live Gold SKU from the Microsoft online Store. Customers can still sign up for a one month or three month Xbox Live Gold subscription online through the Microsoft Store.”
Presumably this has something to do with the launch of the Xbox Series X later this year and a possible refresh or re-pricing of Xbox Live Gold. I’m actually thinking they might do away with Gold entirely and just have combined Game Pass/Gold system, perhaps for the same price Game Pass Ultimate currently is with Ultimate getting a price hike when xCloud is added.
The Xbox One X and Xbox One S All-Digital consoles have also both been removed from sale ahead of the Series X coming out, although the bog-standard Xbox One S can still be bought. Basically this is Microsoft freeing up production lines for the Series X by the looks of things so that they can produce enough of the new machine to meet demand.
Meanwhile, Sony has also been hard at work on the PS5, with reports saying that they’ve ramped up production by another 3-million or so consoles, bringing the total to around 9-10 million PS5s for launch. Obviously, then, my earlier predictions that neither next-gen console was going to launch this year due to Covid related problems were completely and totally fucking off by about a trillion-miles. Ah well, can’t get ’em all right, right?
And finally, I’m going to leave you with a random stupid fact about myself; I can’t say the word, “parallel.” Can’t do it. My mouth and brain cannot work in tandem to produce the required sound. Instead, it sounds like I’m having some sort of manic episode. It made my driving lessons problematic since the topic of parallel parking was somewhat inevitable.