The bumper-sized Monday Inbox tries to imagine a life without video games, as one reader asks for help buying a gaming PC.
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Guess the score
I was wondering if anyone would like an exciting game of guess the Metascore with me, with the game in question being Cyberpunk 2077.
I find it a particularly tricky score to guess. I don’t feel like I have seen enough footage to gauge how compelling the gameplay loop will be, but then again what I have seen looks great. The game has had a few delays, with rumours being the old gen consoles (where most people will play it) proving bothersome. But then again, we all remember Miyamoto’s wise words about delayed games.
The other worry is it’s an first person role-playing game, and CD Projekt Red has no track record here, but then again their last game had a most wonderful quest structure, which will surely be replicated or improved upon. And CD Projekt Red’s own track record with The Witcher games was an improvement in meta score each time.
Tricky, tricky, tricky, all round I think.
Anyway. I’ll kick things off with a 90 and remember it’s just for fun. No self-worth is tied to either this guess or whether it is right or wrong.
A life without video games
At least 55% of Americans have either never played video games ever or the only types of video games they have played are casual games like Candy Crush, Bejeweled, Angry Birds, Farmville, or online gambling. For people in Europe and Australia/New Zealand that percentage is at least in the low 60s.
No Americans, etc. who died before the 1970s ever played video games ever (not even casual ones) and the vast majority of Americans, etc. who died in 1982 never played any video games ever (not even casual ones). The majority of Americans who died in the early 1990s also never played any video games ever (not even casual ones).
No Americans, etc. born centuries from now will play video games because something will replace video games in the future.
GC: Technically video games have existed since the 1940s. Also, the 200th anniversary edition of Super Mario Bros. is surely inevitable.
I was doing more thinking (lockdowns got me that way!). I think the best time window to launch a console is March.
I think this would allow everyone who usually always buys on day one and give the manufactures enough time to replenish stocks ready for the Christmas run, ensuring enough supply for little Jonny and the more causal/not in a rush players.
FrankieMc84 (PSN ID)
GC: Easter is the second most popular time to launch a console. The original Xbox, PlayStation 3, 3DS, and others all launched in March in Europe.
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As I sit here having watched another round of PlayStation 5 stock disappear into the hands of scalpers I find it hard to blame the retailers or platform holders.
The fact is, that if none of us bought the consoles from them they wouldn’t be able to continue buying up the stock.
For every console they sell on they can afford to buy two more at list price. This means that as each wave comes in, less are available to genuine customers.
So to anybody thinking of giving in to their fear of missing out I ask you to please think again.
If we collectively show a little patience and work together towards a common goal we’ll all get the console we deserve in the end.
I know that’s wishful thinking in a free-market economy where we’re all trained to be greedy from birth, but you never know.
Hurry up elves
Reading Alek’s email on Friday, I wholeheartedly agree with him. Until people stop buying consoles above RRP we’ll never get rid of scalpers.
I got lucky and got a day one PlayStation 5 pre-order with Amazon. I love it and the controller, especially, is next level. Do I think it’s worth what I paid? Definitely. But, when I compare it with my PlayStation 4, with the current lack of next gen exclusives, is it worth £600-£1K? Actually, it’s probably not.
The thing is, with a bit of patience, everyone who wants one will get one at RRP. It might be January, it might be March but you will get one. For six and a half years of a console’s lifespan it will be in stock pretty much everywhere (and with bundle deals most likely).
As for the Christmas demand, I understand it’s a tough call when you have a child that really, really wants one but if you promised one for Christmas without a pre-order then more fool you. But let’s be honest, kids of an age to actually want a PlayStation should be old enough to understand at least a claim of ‘Santa’s elves are busy, and they haven’t been able to make enough, he’s promised you one as soon as he can’. And I’m pretty sure they’d be satisfied with £20 of V-Bucks for Fortnite to tide them over on Christmas morning.
You don’t ask, you don’t get
I just popped out to get some lunch and walked into Smyths toys to see if, on the off chance, they had any PlayStation 5s (stupid, I know) the lady explained to me that as soon as they scan the stock in people are immediately buying it online.
I asked for Xbox and got the same answer, thanked them for their time and walked off. Then the lady just caught me before I left the store and said they have one Xbox Series X left, which they were holding in case of faulty units but I could have it so long as I was discrete.
£450 later I now have a new Xbox.. not sure what I’m going to play on it mind but realise how lucky I was in getting something.
R McKenna (gamertag)
I was sorry to hear about reader Antony’s experience with Nintendo with respect to repair of his Joy-Cons after the drift fault.
This was a problem which my seven-year-old son was also experiencing but I have to say that they were returned by Nintendo in less than four weeks without any issue and we were not asked to pay anything, not even return postage. I had heard that the response by Nintendo to this issue was inconsistent and this certainly does appear to be the case with respect to Antony and myself.
Can I also add my tuppence worth about console scalpers: don’t buy from them! If everyone was united on this issue then their prices would quickly fall, although I do understand that parents in particular may feel pressured to appease their kids at Christmas. For my part though, I just wouldn’t enjoy having the console in the house as every time I saw it I would remember that I had indulged the perpetrators of what appears in most cases to be a professionally co-ordinated swindle, and would therefore much rather go without.
ameisa (PSN ID)
Interesting Hot Topic this week. For the most part I agreed with the readers who said that whatever magic is used to wipe your memory would probably also have to de-age you sufficiently, or send you back in time, if you were really going to have the same ‘wow’ factor when playing your chosen game for the first time.
For instance, this year I played Super Mario 64 for the first time. Now, I’m a huge Mario fan, but the N64 was the one console that I never owned. So when Super Mario 3D All-Stars was announced I was relatively pleased that Mario 64 was left in its near original form. I would get to experience it in the same way everyone else did when I was a jealous onlooker back in 1997!
But playing it actually turned out to be nearly as frustrating as it was fun. It’s clearly a fantastic, seminal title, but without the nostalgia-tinted glasses the issue with the camera is impossible to overlook. I had originally aimed to collect all 120 stars but in the end settled on 70 so that I could at least complete it. Maybe this is more about games from the early 3D period not aging well, I’m not sure.
On the flip side, last year I filled in the other gaping hole in my gaming history: Zelda. I had never played any entries from the series until I picked up a Classic SNES Mini and played A Link To The Past on a whim.
It was glorious. A complete revelation to me. There were many times during that game that I was filled with childlike wonderment (which is a disappointingly rare occurrence as an adult) and I genuinely wish I had played it when I was a kid.
For what it’s worth, my choice would be a very recent one. I’d probably go back a couple of weeks and play Astro’s Playroom again, because I was smiling from ear to ear for most of it – a much needed experience this year!
Once again, for the first time
This is a later entry but there’s only one game I’d like to experience again for the first time: Final Fantasy 10. This is the first Final Fantasy game I ever experienced, it absolutely blew me away. Yes, the voice acting was questionable, and the linearality when compared against earlier entries I played afterwards, does stand out. However, it’s all about the story.
To this day it’s still one of my favourite gaming stories; there’s some holes no doubt, and the extended story from other entries in the Final Fantasy 10 saga are, frankly, nonsense, but the characters are amazing and their journey blew me away. Even though it still affects me whenever I replay it, I love to experience the hit right in the feels with that ending for the first time once more.
Also, Shadow Hearts. That game is so bonkers but absolutely solid and it would be great to experience afresh.
All good things
As someone who has advocated the series from previous letters, this may seem more of the same. But this is my honest opinion of Trails Of Cold Steel as a series as I played it, not knowing any back story – of which apparently there is a lot!
As a whole I was very impressed with this series. The characters, the world, the gameplay all worked. I understand not everyone has 60 to 80 hours each game to play, but if you do I recommend it. I won’t repeat what I mentioned in my previous feature.
But now I’ve gotten to the end I’m sad. I’ve got to know these characters over so many hours. It’s rare I think to care about characters in games, especially to think about them post-game. I actually wonder and care about what they are doing right now, after the conclusion.
It’s a rare treat for a game to get you to think beyond the boundaries and this series has done it for me.
So I hope people give this great series a try. It takes a while, it’s not quick, story builds up at its own pace, but it’s so worth it.
I know that this has been asked before but could someone advise on the best resource for finding a gaming PC?
My son wants one and I don’t have a clue about specs. He has a gaming monitor which is capable of 120fps but it’s not 4K, so I assume he won’t need the best graphics card. Any advice or reputable sites anyone could recommend would be appreciated.
GC: It’s a complicated, and expensive, subject but we’re sure a reader can help.
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Taking a break
As a very long time reader and now long time since writing writer (LTRLTSWW?), and after 40 plus years of gaming, a few years ago I drifted into lapsed gamer status. New job, kids… you know the usual epitaphs. I purchased God Of War on release, which confirmed my self-diagnosis. I started playing, got bored during the first Baldur fight. I just couldn’t see what everyone was raving about. So I abandoned my trusty controller, switched the lights off and went out with a whimper.
Last year, I tried to break my dry spell by playing my first Assassin’s Creed game, Odyssey. It was going OK but I just got bored during the ship combat… so an epic fail.
I tried again this year with a shameless Fallout knock-off, The Outer Worlds. Success! I really enjoyed it, I missed most of the side quests and companions but actually finished it. Things were looking up.
Next up, I rattled through the wooden roller coaster that is The Last Of Us 2. Bit dragged out, too many false endings but what a great game. Finally, a decent story, most of which was left unsaid and a game that somehow forces you to empathise at knife point. Sometimes, I just didn’t want to press the required controller button.
So, I returned to God Of War. Absolutely loved it this time. After The Last Of Us 2 not too sure on exactly what kind of grown up story it was trying to tell. People learn to love/deal with grief and/or shame while slaughtering everything in sight? Anyway, a great jumble of a sword and sorcery action game. The crowning glory was the fight against the Queen of the Valkyries. With the limited time I have available, I spent three weeks trying to beat her. For me, one of my most enjoyable boss battles ever (I know it’s personal but up with the maddeningly self-healing Fume Knight in Dark Souls 2). Just kept me coming back again and again for one more go. Finally, I did it.
I know, I know humblebrag; cool story bro, etc. I really just wanted to share that, if like me, you start to find gaming less enjoyable, don’t fret but try taking a break. It will still be there to come back to. Umm… that’s it really.
I hope that you and all your readers have stayed safe this year, are looking forward to Christmas and hopefully a far better 2021.
This is the absolute height of first world problems, but what on earth is going on with the PlayStation 5 media remote? It’s sold out everywhere and has been since day one. When I pre-ordered my console from GAME the bundle with a remote was gone before the bundle with an extra controller.
Presumably Sony didn’t make many of them and are prioritising consoles ahead of anything else. But at £25 a time that could’ve been a decent little stocking-filler earner for them. I had no idea the PlayStation 4 had created such pent-up demand for a remote control!
GC: We’d also assume they’ve got more important things to concentrate on right now.
How happy I am to see some Shadow Of The Colossus and Ico love. Going to be playing in 3D (the remasters on PlayStation 3) and have to check out the remake of Colossus on PlayStation 4, good times!
This week’s Hot Topic
The topic for this weekend’s Inbox was suggested by reader Grackle, who asks who is your favourite video game protagonist?
Regardless of the quality of the games they’re in, which hero (or anti-hero) do you enjoy playing as the most and why? How much does their visual design and gameplay abilities play into it, compared to their personality and storyline?
How important is it that you like the hero in a video game and have you ever bought one – or avoided one – based purely on the main character? Do games in which there is no pre-made character appeal to you less or does it depend on the game?
E-mail your comments to: [email protected]
The small print
New Inbox updates appear every weekday morning, with special Hot Topic Inboxes at the weekend. Readers’ letters are used on merit and may be edited for length.
You can also submit your own 500 to 600-word Reader’s Feature at any time, which if used will be shown in the next available weekend slot.
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