Mid-Week Musings 4/24/14


Ben: These last seven days or so have been quite the strain. Between multiple birthdays, holidays, and a ridiculous work schedule, my tank is running dangeously close to "E." Oh, and we've started playing A Realm Reborn here at Short Pause. So, all that sleep I was planning to make up at some point in the near future? Not in the cards now! Drained or not, the Musings stop for no one! Let's see what's on my mind this week!

The PlayStaton Indie Plan

He puts on a disguise to look like a human guy, but he's not a man he's a ch... oh wait wrong theme song.

He puts on a disguise to look like a human guy, but he's not a man he's a ch... oh wait wrong theme song.

With Octodad: Dadliest Catch finally arriving on PS4 this week, along with a PS3-PS4-Vita cross-buy enabled remake of the long forgotten car combat sim Cel Damage HD, Sony's plan to supplement the PS4 with "smaller" downloadable and indie titles in between some of their new machine's more high-profile releases continues to work wonderfully well.  I say "smaller," as some of these titles — Resogun and Mercenary Kings more specifically — I've spent more time playing than any of their bigger budget siblings.  As Shuhei Yoshida, Sony's head of Worldwide Studios, prophesied prior to the launch of the PS4, these downloadable indie titles would help to fill the gaps between larger AAA releases and combat any perceived software droughts the PS4 might experience.  Well, Mr. Yoshida was dead right.  Personally, I've yet to be wanting for anything to play on my PS4, as PSN titles have been steadily releasing since the system's launch in November of last year, perfectly complimenting the AAA titles found at launch and occasionally released since.  This is also where the PS4 has gained a distinct advantage over its competition.

Over 1000 developers are signed on to develop for the PS4

Over 1000 developers are signed on to develop for the PS4

Many of you have already seen deadpixel's awesome post on NeoGAF breaking down the game release disparity between the Xbox One and the PS4, so let's discuss some of the highlights here.  At launch, exclusive full-retail titles Dead Rising 3, Forza 5, and Ryse were available on the Xbox One, while Killzone: Shadow Fall, and Knack lead the exclusive full-retail charge on the PS4.  While genre preference dictates which exclusive games line-up you probably preferred at launch, Xbox One had one extra game in its stable — with both Forza 5 and Dead Rising 3 scoring exceptionally well with fans and critics alike — so we'll give the advantage to Microsoft in terms of AAA launch titles.  Since launch, full-retail titles have generally been in release parity, with the only obvious difference being the release of Titanfall exclusively on the Xbox One, and the release of inFAMOUS: Second Son exclusively on the PS4.  Xbox One also enjoyed the release of Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare and Kinect Sports Rivals exclusively on their platform, but neither game failed to make much of a splash, with Rivals in particular being a bit of a mixed bag.  Not to be outdone, the PS4 recently saw the release of Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn — which handily trumps PVZ: Garden Warfare and Kinect Sports Rivals in my humble opinion — and Dynasty Warriors 8: Xtreme Legends Complete Edition.  Regardless, preferences drastically differ between the retail console exclusives, and there is a strong case to be made for both companies as to which one has the better retail line-up.  "But Ben," you say, "what about all the performance differences between third-party titles on the Xbox One and PS4?"  Resolution-gate has been beaten into the ground, and developers and media alike have made it clear that the PS4 performs better across multi-platform games at this point.  While this is most assuredly an important difference between the two consoles, and undoubtedly one the reasons that the PS4 continues to outsell the Xbox One, for the purposes of this post we're simply going to focus on the exclusive games available on each system.


"Couple this easier-to-develop-for-architecture with a self-publishing plan far superior to anything their peers were implementing, and it's easy to see why Sony has been able to dominate the indie space. They saw the writing on the wall a few years ago; the indie movement was real, and their games would be an integral part of the immediate gaming future."

Mercenary Kings: A proud member of PS4's stellar indie line-up

Mercenary Kings: A proud member of PS4's stellar indie line-up

This brings us the the consoles' respective indie and downloadable line-ups; the proverbial "rub" in the current battle raging between Microsoft and Sony as part of their eternal war for video game supremacy.  Or in Microsoft's case, their current lack of an indie line-up altogether.  While Microsoft was busy trumpeting TV integration and Skype-snapping, Sony was busy focusing on a gaming machine built for gamers. They were creating and implementing an indie solution that allowed developers, both big and small, to easily create and self-publish games on their platform. With concept-to-workable-build time drastically reduced on the PS4, game makers could produce playable game builds a lot quicker than in the previous generation, allowing them more time for polish and spit-shine.  Couple this easier-to-develop-for-architecture with a self-publishing plan far superior to anything their peers were implementing, and it's easy to see why Sony has been able to dominate the indie space.  They saw the writing on the wall a few years ago; the indie movement was real, and their games would be an integral part of the immediate gaming future.  Sony had the machine, they had the plan, and they had the developers signed on to make games for their shiny new black box, and throughout these first six months that the PS4 has been on store shelves, we've seen the fruits of their labor.  Let's look at all of the indie/downloadable titles that have released exclusively on the PS4 since launch:

That's 32 games.  32 games the Xbox One does not have on their platform.  While it's true that many of these titles have been released on other platforms previously, there are still a ton of them that first saw the light of day on PS4, and even though not all of these have been well received (*cough* Basement Crawl *cough*), the overwhelming majority of these games are extremely high quality titles.  Regardless of whether you've played some of these games on other platforms or not, the fact remains that the PS4 has access to 32 games that the Xbox One does not.  Factor in Stick it to the Man, Daylight, and the de facto exclusive The Amazing Spider-Man 2, all arriving in short order only for the PS4, and this list is only continuing to grow.  

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Future members of PS4's exclusive indie club

Future members of PS4's exclusive indie club

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Microsoft just wasn't prepared for this new console cycle in the same way that Sony was.  They came into this new generation high off the success of the Xbox 360 — much in the same way Sony introduced the PS3 with an excessive amount of grandstanding and bravado — and it's clear they weren't expecting Sony and their "games first" approach to take off so quickly.  I believe they felt they may have had more time to establish their install base before a gaming drought would really come into play, with the assumption that loyal Xbox supporters would make the transition to their new machine with a steady regularity.  Six months in, the PlayStation 4 is a high demand/short supply steam roller, complete with an armada of exclusive indie titles filling out its release calendar between AAA titles.  While the ID@Xbox program is finally beginning to ramp up, and we'll soon see some great indie titles like Below, Super T.I.M.E. Force, and Guacamelee!: Super Turbo Championship Edition start to release on Microsoft's new baby in the (hopefully) near future, this is a program that should have been ready at launch, with a slate of planned titles ready for release in the weeks and months since launch.  Microsoft dropped the ball on this, and Sony was there to scoop it up and deliver a deafening slam dunk.

A pair of Capy games destined for the ID@Xbox program

A pair of Capy games destined for the ID@Xbox program

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As for Nintendo?  We're not going to talk about Nintendo, as they continue to exist in an alternate era outside of the standard timeline; a special place reserved for them on the outskirts of the Nexus of Time and Reality, where the internet is a new thing and friend codes are a way of life.  While there is some cool indie stuff in the pipeline for Nintendo platforms, such as the totally awesome looking Shovel Knight (Hey Yacht Club Games, if you're listening, let's get this thing on the Vita!), but they continue to lag at least a generation behind in terms of online infrastructure, third-party relations, technical specifications, and seemingly every other relevant gaming category, relegating themselves to mere footnote status in this ongoing debate.  

Sony's winning the battle, the war, and the public perception contest.  What are Microsoft and Nintendo's next moves, and where does this thing go from here?  Sound off in the comments!...

In Case You Missed It...

Patch 1.02 went live a few weeks ago

Patch 1.02 went live a few weeks ago

Mercenary Kings was recently patched!  After an extensive complaining session in a previous version of the Musings, I thought it only fair that I give credit to Tribute Games for quickly releasing a patch to rectify the situation.  Update 1.02 brought an end to the network shenanigans I had previously experienced with trying to play online with friends, in addition to fixing some of the game's more annoying glitches; chief among them being the "boss error glitch." They also patched the glitched Speed Runner and Untouchable trophies, while adding a star to your mission list so you know when you've beaten the fastest time in a given level.  Great stuff, Tribute Games!  While there are still the occasional audio/video glitches, this patch addressed all of my major concerns, and the game is that much more enjoyable now that it is in generally proper working order.  If you had trouble with Mercenary Kings shortly after the game launched and have yet to fire it back up, give it another spin and I think you'll be pleasantly surprised to find the game you were hoping to play when you initially downloaded it.  It's a fantastic game!  Now, I've got to go and unlock more gun parts!...

I've started playing Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn and...

I may never see my wife and kids, or the outside world, again!  I've only scratched the surface with my budding Arcanist Donner Kohl, but I don't think I've ever had more fun fetching herbs for a local bartender!  I had a lot of fun with Final Fantasy XI back on the Xbox 360, and I've always regretted not being able to play that game more. Now, my chance at redemption is here in the form of A Realm Reborn, and I can't wait to play more of it.  I just hope I don't get too caught up and stop playing other games altogether!  All of us here at Short Pause are in the clutches of Final Fantasy XIV at the moment, and you can follow our exploits in the land of Eorzea here.  Check back with us every few days as we update you on our progress in the game, before ultimately delivering our final verdict in 30 days as to whether or not this game is worth the monthly fee!

And the Collector's Edition of this game is totally rad.  Between the Yoshitaka Amano box art (Yes!), the awesome hardcover artbook, soundtrack, and exclusive in-game items, I'm not regretting my Collector's Edition OCD at all with this one!...

Countdown to Destiny...