In honor of April Fool's Day, the Musings takes center stage on a day other than Monday! A wealth of pontifications await you, the fair reader, so let's not waste any more time! Can you spot the April Fool's Joke within?
In what can only be considered good news for Microsoft fans across the globe, Phil Spencer has been named the new head of all things Xbox! Why is this great news? Phil Spencer is a games guy. Just listen to one of his interviews or read any of the comments he makes and it's clear that this guy knows his games. Check out this quote from Phil's initial letter to Xbox fans:
"The growth of the Xbox community, with over 80 million Xbox owners around the world, is built on the foundation of exclusive franchises, new and original IP and the world’s most popular cross-platform games. Games and gamers have always been at the core of Xbox and the core of my work—and gaming will be our core as we take Xbox forward.
This past year has been a growth experience both for me and for the entire Xbox team. We’ve taken feedback, made our products better and renewed our focus on what is most important, our customer. Our mission is to build a world-class team, work hard to meet the high expectations of a passionate fan base, create the best games and entertainment and drive technical innovation. As we continue forward, this renewed focus and mission will be a foundational part of how I lead the Xbox program."
Hmmm, where have I heard this before?
In all seriousness, this is news that all gamers, Xbox fans or not, can get excited about. An Xbox focused on games (perish the thought!) means gamers come out the winner here. It means we're going to see some great things coming out of Microsoft Game Studios (of which Phil will still reside over in this new role) and from third-party developers. It means Sony and PlayStation will have that much more competition, which in turn drives up the quality of the gaming product as both companies strive to one-up the other. It means maybe we won't have to sit through 20 minutes of force-fed Kinect hype and TV talk every Xbox press conference. These are all good things! Spencer hammers home the "gamers first" philosophy, of which Sony has trumpeted to great initial success with the PS4, in an interview with Polygon in which he states, "Xbox is a gaming brand and [Microsoft] took the person who was at the head of the gaming franchises to lead the Xbox team...With me you're going to get a focus on gaming first and a best platform to play games on." Looking forward to seeing it Phil! Now, how about we get some more info on Quantum Break?...
We can all agree that March was a blockbuster month for gaming, kicking off the next-generation of home consoles in earnest. Titanfall, Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes, and inFAMOUS: Second Son lined store shelves and entered backlogs during an unforgettable ten day stretch in March that will go down in the annals of gaming history. While April doesn't have the headliners that March laid claim to, there are plenty of titles I'm stoked to check out this month. Tuesday saw the release of the eagerly anticipated indie title Mercenary Kings, a throwback side-scrolling shooter I'm dying to try out later this week. Baseball aficionados can get their fix with the best baseball sim out there, as MLB 14: The Show stepped up to the plate on PS3 and Vita yesterday as well (I'm personally holding out for the PS4 version next month). Later this month sees the surprise hit Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn and the recently delayed-so-you-can-crap-your-pants-more Daylight hitting the PS4. Speaking of soiled trousers, the one-of-a-kind experience that is Outlast receives its first post-launch DLC in the form of The Whistleblower DLC at some point this month, taking us back inside the utterly disturbing walls of Mount Massive Asylum one more time. From the Red Barrels Games Twitter account:
Then there's the Mr. Freeze DLC for Batman: Arkham Origins, Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate Deluxe Edition, Conception II on Vita, Ragnarok Odyssey: Ace, new Call of Duty DLC, Jo-Jo's Bizarre Adventure: All-Star Battle, The Elder Scrolls Online (PC edition, I'll be playing on PS4 myself!), Tropico 5, and Demon Gaze on the Vita, before the end of the month brings two of the games I'm looking forward to playing most in the form of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (next-gen!), and Child of Light, an absolutely breathtaking looking RPG from Ubisoft Montreal built on the Rayman Origins engine. So about that catching up on the backlog... yeah not so much...
E.T. (Atari 2600) is the Greatest Game of All-Time.
I've never played Metro 2033, and Metro: Last Light is a proud member of my PlayStation Plus backlog. I would love to try this collection out on my PS4 as I've always heard good things!
Shouting from Atop my Gaming Soapbox
Which brings me to this week's topic of rant: complaining about a lack of games to play. You've seen it, I've seen it; people moaning, typically in a comments section or on Twitter, about how they don't have any games to play and there is nothing for their new system and blah, blah, blobbity blah. Really? You have no games to play? The PS4 alone launched with over 20 games, including standouts like Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, NBA 2K14, Need for Speed Rivals, Resogun, Battlefield 4, Call of Duty: Ghosts, Contrast, and Killzone: Shadow Fall. Have you played through all those? What about Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition, Thief, inFAMOUS: Second Son, and Rayman Legends? Not yet a proud owner of a next-gen console? Have you played Dark Souls II, South Park: The Stick of Truth, or Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster? But Ben, you say, I only play a certain type of game and nothing is of interest to me right now. To that I say, "Have you considered broadening your horizons?" There are so many great downloadable and indie titles that have come out recently that I implore anyone who has yet to take the independent plunge to try out some of these quirky, innovative, and often brilliant titles. Give Don't Starve: Console Edition, Resogun, Outlast, Luftrausers, Mercenary Kings, Strider, Towerfall: Ascension, Awesomenauts Assemble, and FEZ a try. You might be surprised at what you find...
"So when a member of the media says there aren't many games to play, sometimes we fail to put this statement in its proper perspective. For the average Joe, the average gamer like you and me, there's plenty out there for us to sink our teeth into."
I think sometimes this "I don't have anything to play" mentality can be a result of the gaming media's skewed view on things. The media gets these games early, plays them to completion, reviews or previews them for coverage, and then moves on. Those 20 launch games? They all got blown through before the system launched in order to cover them properly for their respective sites. It's the media's job to play through these games, often as quickly as possible, and get their opinions out to the masses. They don't have time to spend 50 hours with a game's multiplayer or play it day in and day out exclusively because they enjoy it. It's their job to play games and report on them. So when a member of the media says there aren't many games to play, sometimes we fail to put this statement in its proper perspective. For the average Joe, the average gamer like you and me, there's plenty out there for us to sink our teeth into. Sometimes, we may just need open our eyes and look at what's right in front of us...
The Countdown is On...
160 Days until Destiny...