PlayStation Mega Bits: September 2020

It’s been another monster month of news for PlayStation. Sony has unveiled launch date and pricing for the PlayStation 5 during one last showcase, but despite the huge announcements and new looks at next gen gaming, its the news and events that came after the show that drew the most attention. There’s a lot to break down this month and I’m ready to deliver it in a bite sized podcast. This is PlayStation Mega Bits.

Crossing Wires and Generations

Let’s get the bad news out of the way first. Sony stepped into a pile of PR poo poo during their latest showcase and continued to drag it through the house in the days and weeks afterwards. This is because in the months leading up to the launch of the PlayStation 5 Sony drew a well defined line in the sand declaring that they are taking a different approach at next generation gaming than Xbox is by clearly defining the transition of PS4 and PS5 gaming.

While Xbox is promoting a blurring of the lines between Xbox One and Xbox Series, with most games being playable across all consoles, Sony had definitively stated they were designing games that are only made possible with the power of PS5. They said this many times in many places… until they didn’t. We now know the truth, that many of the games we’ve seen shown off as PlayStation 5 games are also going to be available on the PS4 as well. This probably wouldn’t be such a controversial thing given that this is usually how these companies make their generational transitions, however the rub comes in due to how hard Sony was pushing the narrative of these games only being possible as next generation titles. In fact with as much speculative pushback players and media doled out about Miles Morales being a “true next gen title” Sony and Insomniac dealt it right back in equal measure with firm PR spin that the followup Spider-man adventure was indeed being designed for the PS5.

Ultimately it’s a good thing for players and consumers. There are many people who find themselves in financial hardship due to COVID 19 putting a choke hold on the global economy and having the option to play Sony’s latest and greatest on hardware they currently own is definitely giving people one less thing to worry about paying for this holiday season. But Sony is going to have to take their lumps for their misleading messagings for the past several months. There’s no way to make this look good from a messaging standpoint. It’s just another in a series of missteps from Sony management and PR and it points to an inability to confidently and truthfully message their strategies to the public.

Fantasy to Reality

Now the good stuff. One of, if not the biggest announcement at the showcase was the announcement that Final Fantasy XVI was not only in development, but would be a PlayStation console exclusive. The announcement trailer, titled “Awakening”, revealed a return to a more traditional fantasy setting akin to the series’ earlier installments complete with knights, castles and kings. There also seems to be large narrative emphasis on the iconic Summons and their usage in the medieval war the game is set in.

It hasn’t taken long to get more information and rumors about this upcoming flagship game either. Recent industry rumors have Final Fantasy XVI well in development. Jason Schreier of Bloomberg recently spoke about hearing Final Fantasy XVI has been in progress for at least four years now and is much closer to seeing the light of day than anyone would expect. This was seemingly backed up by a recent quote from producer Naoki Yoshida at Tokyo Game Show when talking about development of the trailer shown at the showcase, saying they created the trailer using real time gameplay so as to alleviate any concern the public would have that this game would suffer the same prolonged development the series is traditionally known for.

In fact, even though while the next major showing of Final Fantasy XVI is not expected until next year, Square Enix has announced that they will be launching an official website for the game in October complete with character bios and more information on the world the game is set in. This property is incredibly important once again with the success of Final Fantasy VII Remake (also a current PlayStation exclusive) and Square Enix continues to strike while the iron is hot by going full steam ahead with the future of Final Fantasy.

Sudden Impact

Open World fantasy adventure Genshin Impact from developer miHoYo is available right now as a console exclusive on the PlayStation 4. An anime inspired RPG with a heavy dose of Breath of the Wild for artistic flavor and exploration vibes, Genshin Impact is catching a lot of eyes. While people are quick to call attention to the similarities in tone and look to Breath of the Wild, the decidedly JRPG flavor of Genshin Impact will certainly call out towards gamers who are looking for something a little different. There is a stronger emphasis on party building, spell casting and even summons akin to games like Final Fantasy or Nino Kuni, all wrapped in a gorgeous hand-drawn aesthetic that has me in love with the look of this title.

In addition to all of that players won’t have to jump through a lot of hoops or weigh their decision for very long as to whether to give this a try either as this is a free-to-play adventure. The game has just released at the time of me writing this so I have not yet been able to get hands on with Genshin Impact to fully understand what exactly this game offers. The free-to-play nature of it certainly makes you question what sort of monetization the game employs. Whether we’re looking at purchasable quests, customizable gear or something entirely different is not quite known yet, but the game has me curious and it’s downloading to my hard drive as we speak. I’ll have more to say on this game on future podcasts.

Sniper Elite Takes Aim

The experience of warfare in World War 2 will soon be headed to your VR headset as Sniper Elite VR has revealed its first gameplay trailer. This is a series I’ve never played before but it has an audience that has kept it going strong since it’s debut back in 2005. Watching the trailer communicates that this is so much more than a stealth game. While raising your rifle scope quietly in the shadows to eliminate your target is certainly a key feature to this VR experience, the dual wielding, frag throwing run and gun action of the trailer gave me strong Medal of Honor vibes. This looks to be a very polished and optimized VR experience that will give shooter fans everything they desire.

Reading up on the game over at the Official PlayStation Blog also reveals that developer Rebellion is putting a lot of thought into taking full advantage of the suite of options available on the PSVR platform. Players will be able to select from a multitude of control options including, Dual Shock 4 play, Move setting and even the PSVR Aim controller will have a customized control setting in this game. Sniper Elite VR also will allow the player to choose between free movement or teleporting, something that I greatly appreciate as a VR player. I’ve had more than my share of game experiences feel held back by forcing teleportation on me. Sniper Elite VR looks to be one of the next big VR games to hit the PlayStation platform. Make sure you keep it in your sights.

Every month on PlayStation Mega Bits Elliott and I recommend a game we think you should be playing and for the month of September we’re talking about No Man’s Sky. Hello Games has been updating this game consistently since launch and they’ve added a host of new features including VR.

Elliott: I went in a giant cave and there was a whole bunch of creatures and crystals.

Adam: Some of the improvements they’ve made to the VR mode is how your tools work.

Elliott: You put your hand behind your back and then push the trigger to get it off your back. Then if you hold down trigger you shoot it and then you can defeat bad guys.

Adam: We started a new game on a friendly planet. There were no bad guys but let’s talk about this cave you explored.

Elliott: I jumped in it and there was a thousand crystals all over the place. There was three dead ends and I got lost two times. Then I finally found the way out.

Adam: But before you did that you got to fly in your space ship.

Elliott: Yeah and I blasted around and I got to flip over and shoot a whole bunch of rocks. Do you shoot hot dogs?

Adam: No. Those are lasers. Do they look like blue hot dogs?

Elliott: Yup. And they’re made of metal and they can blast outer space rocks.

Adam: We think you should definitely check out No Man’s Sky. It is greatly approved.

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