2019 – Our big Games, Console and PC Predictions

We round up where we think PC and Console gaming is going for 2019…

 

Xbox  – Tech and Games

Will the new studio acquisitions affect the next Xbox console?

In 2018, Microsoft announced seven new studios to build out their first party portfolio. With studios like Undead Labs, Playground Games and Obsidian Entertainment joining the fold, Microsoft has new challenges to tackle when embarking on next generation endeavours. That leaves us with a question. Do these teams, with their open world credentials, affect the makeup of the console?

The obvious bottleneck with the current systems is the CPU power, as advancements have been made in other areas with the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X systems. Open world games have long struggled with the current hardware on offer, with examples going back to 2014 and the release of Assassins Creed: Unity. In an interview with Videogamer at the time, the senior producer said “Technically we’re CPU bound” in relation to the amount of AI and NPCs on screen, resulting in a sub-1080p image being displayed. It goes without saying, open world developers will have a keen eye on the specs of the new systems.

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Developers have had a hand in decision making for console specs in the past. In a 2014 interview translated by Dualshockers, key developers working on Knack stated that Sony had initially planned for 4gb of RAM to be the total amount in the PS4 system.

After several meetings discussing the final hardware, the developers successfully convinced Sony to up the RAM amount to 8gb, which was a smart decision looking back on the 8th generation of systems. A lower RAM count would have been a huge bottleneck for the Sony system, especially as Xbox One went with 8gb too. Decisions like this have huge weight, as typical console generations last for six to eight years, meaning both Microsoft and the developers have a vested interest in getting the specifications right at the beginning of the generation.

As the next Xbox console nears, we hope to see these new studios shine in the coming generation. Turn 10 Studios and 343 Industries, making Forza and Halo respectively, have long influenced Xbox hardware, and will continue to do so. However, with some of these studio acquisitions being open-world focused, we want to see their influence on show, allowing for dense open worlds filled with interesting NPCs and more complex AI powering new scenarios.

 

SONY PLAYSTATION’s 2019

Sony Playstation has had one of it’s most successful years to date, mostly thanks to the PlayStation 4 and the PlayStation 4 Pro. Introduced November 10th, 2016 the PS4 Pro stepped up the game in terms of power, and supported 4K display.

Both PlayStation 4 Pro and the Xbox One X support all of the same titles as their standard counterparts, with an added boost. Developers will need to specifically build in features that take advantage of the more powerful consoles so not all games will benefit.

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The PlayStation 4 Pro, a high-powered version of Sony’s very popular PS4 platform, supports 4K and high-dynamic range (HDR) content, as well offers a number of technical improvements to PS4 games old and new. Though the console’s increased power can benefit any PS4 game, some games will be optimised to take full advantage of the Pro’s hardware: PS4 Pro games include:

  • Assassin’s Creed Odyssey
  • Far Cry 5
  • FIFA 18
  • God of War

A current list of games known to be upgraded on Xbox One X, includes:

  • Assassin’s Creed Odyssey
  • Dragon Ball FighterZ
  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
  • Fallout 4
  • Final Fantasy XV

Now the tech is there, everyone’s wondering what next?

CEO Kenichiro Yoshida confirmed in an interview with the Financial Times, that it is “necessary to have a next-generation hardware.” It was also noted in the report that the design of the next-generation hardware would actually stay similar to the PlayStation 4; if it’s not broken don’t change it?

Though Sony hasn’t confirmed any specifications to date, there have been multiple sources who suggest PS5 development kits have made their way to developers, perhaps meaning games for the PS5 are already in development.

Kazunori Yamauchi Gran Turismo Sport creator’s comments on a studio tour suggested the team are already tinkering with the PS5. He told Finder.com that it takes a long time to develop new cars because they are “building for future versions of the console rather than the one we see today.” He also hinted that it “would be no problem to run it at 8K even.” This is above the current 4K capability of the PS4 Pro.

Another huge name which speaks to confirm the existence of developer packs is Bethesda Softworks. Speaking to Eurogamer in Spain at the Gamelab conference,  Todd Howard Bethesda game director revealed Starfield will be next-generation in both software and hardware. Pretty excitingly, seeing as Elder Scrolls VI is released prior to Starfield, it isn’t a quantum leap to suggest The Elder Scrolls VI will also be a PlayStation 5 release.

Top 5 reasons PS5 should be a modular game console

  1. Flexibility for the consumer

Number one is the most important as unlike current gen consoles which have one fixed price. The modular gaming console design would allow the PS5 to offer an entry level edition for those without a big budget to spend. These entry level systems would play games at lower settings but can still be upgraded over time, creating a bigger Playstation Marketplace.

2. Third party designs resolve issues faster than first party

Do you remember those old third party PS3 and XBOX 360 controllers? They were cheap and ideal to give to that friend that came over to play games now and again. And with controllers increasing in price for each generation its important to have cheaper alternatives. The PS5 with its module design could offer the user more options in terms of design, including cheaper options.

3. Specially designed modules people with disabilities

Microsoft recently revealed the ‘adaptive controller for those with physical handicaps that block them from being able to play games. This controller is only a small step towards the inclusion of everyone into video games. Module design could improve this aspect greatly. For example, what if you could add a Tobii eye tracker, for those who can’t hold a controller?

4. Change the aesthetic on the fly

Ever get sick of how your PS4 looks? Maybe you’ve got the entire black version but it doesn’t suit your new gaming room. Well with a module game console you don’t need to be stuck with the same looking console. Add different colours or even a new case it’s completely customisable.

5. Longer console generations

The console generations are getting longer and it’s no surprise that making a modular console would increase its life expectancy. Jack Rear of Verdict explained that console generations are so long because the console market wants “Updates rather than upgrades.” Instead of buying a new console why not just insert an updated module whenever you want to upgrade your experience?

Top 5 remakes we want to see

  • Suikoden

The Suikoden series is an extremely underrated collection of JRPGs developed by Konami for the PS1 in 1995. While the series has continued in one way or another through many console generations it has yet to receive a remake for the original two on PS1. However, we don’t only want this game because its an amazing JRPG classic, we also want it because of how expensive a copy of Suikoden can cost currently. One copy can cost upwards of £100 which is a large investment for even the biggest JRPG fan.

  • Legacy of Kain

Often called Prince of Persia’s edgy cousin, Legacy of Kain is an under appreciated gem for the PS1 which needs to see a full remaster or reboot the same way that Prince of Persia did with Sands of Time (Hopefully to more success). The sword play and parkour needs to be reworked for the newer consoles but this series has the potential to be fantastic.

  • Syphon filter

SIE bend studio is well known for their upcoming game Days Gone. However before that they were making the Syphon Filter series. A third-person stealth action game which had some of the best animations the PS1 could offer. Not only that but the well designed levels and combat makes this game still hold up even to this day. We hope that SIE will pick up this franchise again.

  • Bubble Bobble

While Bubble Bobble certainly isn’t underrated it has been completely forgotten about. Except for a spin off series, it hasn’t seen an actual main line game in decades. Yet, for some of us here at Square Peg it was our first ever game and replaying it in a higher resolution and an updated sound track would be the perfect nostalgia trip.

  • Dino Crisis

Dino Crisis was created by the developers of massively successful Resident Evil franchise, which is gaining so many remakes. Us here at Square Peg are hoping an underrated spin off about ferocious dinosaurs hunting you down rather than zombies will be next in line.

The Playstation 4 is heading towards the end of its extremely successful console generation and while it hasn’t ended just yet, it’s hard to not look towards the future of the Playstation timeline. More importantly at what the PS5 could be. Here at Square Peg Gamers we believe the PS5 could be a modular designed console as it would carry so many benefits for not only Sony but for its consumers too. Not only why the PS5 should be modular, but also what old gems we want to brought back from the first Playstation’s library. Please share with us your theories about what you think the PS5 will be like and what games you want the next generation to remaster.

PC Gaming.

Can the PC keep up with the increasing popularity of its Console counterparts?

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Arguably the period between 2014-2018 has been one of the more significant times for the medium of PC gaming. The popularity of the genre, and the volume of games available for PC (namely Steam, GOG and Origin) has multiplied, and the PC enthusiasts have been joined and, in part replaced by a younger and more demanding demographic.

For sites like Steam, this time has seen interest by AAA developers to create fully-optimised games and even exclusives for PC, rivalling their interest in console game development. Games themselves have changed, with classic pc-based genres such as strategy and puzzle being supplanted by floods of AAA and indie titles. Whilst this trend has been continuing for almost five years, it shows no signs of slowing, and with the recent success of newbie consoles like the Nintendo Switch, many believe PC hardware must adapt to stay a viable method of gaming.

On the hardware front, whilst historically having been hit and miss, the future of PC gaming is likely to be headed by the growing popularity of VR gaming and technological advances in PC components. Since 2015, Steam has gradually introduced SteamVR software, allowing users to easily install the HTC VIVE (VR peripheral/controller combo) and play VR games directly through their service.

More recently video sharing sites such as YouTube have been awash with users’ experiences with the variety of games available to be played in this manner, such as the recently released Early Access of Blade and Sorcery, Bethesda’s variety of VR adaptions of their games (such as Skyrim VR and Fallout 4 VR), Budget Cuts, BeatSaber (which has a building popularity in streaming services) and Pablov VR.

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Whilst the failure of the Steam machine series in 2014 might have demonstrated a lack of interest by casual consumers in PC gaming, recently the popularity of gaming laptops, bolstered by the advances of mobile gaming components by companies such as Intel, Nvidia and AMD has increased significantly. Earlier this month, Nvidia Ceo Jason Huang described the number of gaming laptop users as “quite extraordinary” and claimed that the new Intel Core I9 series processors and Nvidia RTX series of GPUs has allowed portable machines to perform equally as well as their console competitors, playing graphically demanding games at high framerates potentially better than the more powerful desktops of today.

Alongside these continuing advances, rumours that Steam, PC gaming largest online marketplace may be getting crossplay services with Microsoft Xbox consoles have been circulating. Long have PC gamers been benefiting from access to Xbox exclusive titles such as State of Decay 2, Gears of War and the Forza series via the Xbox App on the windows store, and crossplay with Steam may create larger acknowledgement of PC gaming as a whole, emulating recent crossplay in games such as Minecraft and Fortnite by Xbox, PlayStation and iOS.

Whilst these advances will contribute to the profitability and continued success of PC gaming in 2019, certain aspects of the community pose a threat to this success. The emergence of a plethora of steam-like game marketplaces such as from voice chat app discord and streaming service twitch, offering both marketplace exclusives and monthly paid access, and the growing success of steam competitors such as the aforementioned GOG (Good Old Games) and Bethesda’s exclusive marketplace BethesdaNet threaten to polarise the Mediums community. An argument can be made however, that more competitors to Steam may aid PC gaming in the long term, but this remains to be seen, meanwhile 2019 should be a great year for any PC gamer.

 

What We Desperately Hope To See From Nintendo In 2019

Can you believe it? Almost two years into the Switch era and Nintendo is yet to slow down, following the release of a recent ‘smash’ hit, Pokémon Let’s Go and a plethora of splendid indie and triple-A re-releases that kept folks like us glued to that little 6-inch screen (if you’re consistently on the go) throughout 2018.

Moving into 2019 however is presenting a bit of an unknown conundrum, however. Sony could potentially be gearing up for a PlayStation 5 reveal following their announced absence at this years E3 event whilst Microsoft are cooking up a ‘cloud’ based next-gen system, leaving Nintendo to scoop up the technological dust left behind for breakfast. Funnily enough, this isn’t even counting the games.

We might not be market experts, but thanks to our burning passion for Nintendo’s financial success (and games) that genuinely doesn’t matter. Here’s a few neat ideas that ought to keep them in the limelight until the 31st of December 2019 – at least.

A Brand New Switch Model

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Towards the end of 2018, rumours have been floating around about a potential new model of the Switch. Despite the rampant sales of the system this makes sense – a few years after the 3DS an XL and new3DS systems were released, featuring improvements from a larger screen size to a beefier processor and a few extra features like head tracking. If there really is a new Switch model on the way it would be extremely beneficial to take advantage of all the potential at once. These range from an upgrade to a better processor such as NVIDIA’s Tegra X2 chip (taking the system from a Maxwell architecture to a superior Pascal one), a 4K output along with a UI update, a bigger screen and perhaps a slightly slimmer physical design. A newer, boosted Switch could run games with better resolutions and framerates, leading to better gameplay experiences and (if the fates allow) even more potential ports.

Big Improvements to Nintendo Switch Online

There was one controversial blip on the radar for Nintendo in 2018, which came in the form of ‘Nintendo Switch Online’. Much like its market competitors, Nintendo decided to charge a premium for playing games online, and so far the service has been less than stellar. The immediate problem that MUST be fixed is the ubiquitous and exceedingly frustrating lag, which can ruin a good game of Smash Bros and Mario Kart; or any game for that matter.

The second issue lies in the offering of available NES tiles to access via cloud streaming which Nintendo offers to subscribers instead of the seemingly favoured virtual console. So far there aren’t a lot of games available, in addition to a seemingly slow rollout (Only two games were added to the service this month in January). With a huge supply of SNES, N64 and GameCube games it really is time for Nintendo to step up and justify the mandatory price tag this year.

Some Communication on Metroid Prime 4

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Ever since the shock announcement of Prime 4 at E3 2017 Nintendo has largely remained silent about it. All we know about it is that it’s being developed for the Switch, it’s possibly being made by Bandai Namco and that it remains as an upcoming title. Considering how long fans have waited for a genuinely good 3D Metroid game after Corruption in 2007 (12 years!) it would be at the very least courteous to ease the waiting from fans.

The Holy Animal Crossing for Switch

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Nintendo did the unthinkable in one of its Direct presentations: announcing the highly requested Animal Crossing for Switch. The last Animal Crossing game for home consoles was in 2008 with City Folk, whilst the previous Animal Crossing was in 2012 with New Leaf. Hopefully (and expectedly) at some point this year a release date will be released to the masses to feast upon, their suffering near an end.

A Big, Proper Pokémon Game

The two Pokémon Let’s Go titles are a refreshingly nostalgic take on the highly popular long-running and rather crazy series, but at the end of the day fans were hoping for the next big generation reveal – a proper, console Pokémon RPG game with high quality graphics on the go and at home. Announced during E3 2017, a new big Pokémon title is definitely coming – when, however, remains to be seen. In a previous financial briefing, Nintendo revealed that the next Pokémon title will launch in ‘late 2019’. Which date and whether it’ll be similar to Ultra Sun/ Moon or Let’s Go remain to be seen, however.

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Some Wacky (and potential) Characters for Smash Bros

Ridley, King. K Rool, Simon Belmont, Ken from Street Fighter… Piranha Plant. Super Smash Bros Bros Ultimate has proven to be very successful in the UK, dominating the sales charts over the festive holidays along with an endless debate over who could possibly be the next 4 characters to be announced for a smashing good time in Ultimate. Like everyone else and their mothers, we have a few character ideas that could be pretty palatable.

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Crash Bandicoot would be a sensibly good character to add, considering the recent success of the Crash N. Sane Trilogy on the Switch in addition to the history of the early 3D platformer war between the marsupial and the jolly fat Italian plumber.

Speaking of hit 2017 games, The Champions of Hyrule would be a perfect fit for either one or 4 character slots (similar to the Pokémon trainer). Switching between the 4 on the fly would be a fun gameplay style to learn, although it will probably result in a lot of 1v1’s between Revali and Falco if you think about it.

An unexpected but exciting character could be Sora from the Kingdom Hearts series, because if Joker from Persona 5 (a game that isn’t on a Nintendo system) can show up then why not? Several Kingdom Hearts games have shown up on Nintendo systems in the past, like Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories and 358/2 days.

And just because it’s clearly the most popular ‘meme’ character for the game, we also support Waluigi for smash.

A Bunch of Port Requests

It’s likely that developers and social media managers are extremely sick of being asked if ‘insert upcoming/ older game here’ is getting ported to Switch, but there’s a reason the question is so popular. Taking games that could only be played connected to a larger stationary screen (unless it’s an expensive gaming laptop) on the move is one of absolute best aspects of the Switch, so having a few more of them would be a total joy. Moving from 10 ports tin 2017 to 95 ports in 2018 was an impressive step forward, but a few more would be extremely appreciated.

Some of the more highly requested ports are GTA V, Super Mario 3D World, Fallout 4/ 3/ New Vegas, Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor and a whole bunch of Assassin’s Creed games. There’s plenty more that could be listed down, but reading long lists in a listicle is pretty annoying so we’ll save you the trouble.

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New Apps To Waste More Time On Instead Of Playing Games

As a modern tablet device the Switch has relatively very few apps, if any at all. This isn’t entirely bad of course; the Switch was designed for the purpose of playing cool games at home and on the go but the fact remains that it is missing features that both the PS4, Xbox One and even Wii U had. A simple web browser would be an immediate step up, along with it being proven that there technically is a hidden browser on the system already. Why stop there however? Both Netflix and Amazon Prime would be welcome additions to the Switch to lose even more time to binging shows, in addition to some social media apps like Facebook and Twitter. YouTube became available for the Switch on the 8th of November last year, so there’s little reason the rest of those video streaming apps available can’t appear either.

Sort Out The Terrifying Labyrinth That Is The eShop

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There might be a strong, growing library of excellent games available on the Switch but that doesn’t mean they’re easy to find. The eShop is a cluttered mess at the time of publishing, and has been ever since it first launched with a wild mix of outstanding indie’s and triple-A titles with horrible budget games that get mixed in with one another, burying some of the gems in the store that deserved to be experienced. Considering that Nintendo promised to sort out the eShop’s problem last spring it’s pretty surprising than nothing of substance has happened yet.

So, 2019 proves to be a potentially exciting year. With the console generation coming to an end its nice to see so much content and tech still being developed.

Us here at Square Peg Gam

Dylan Bryne, Bradley Newson, Mollie Taylor, Phil Gallagher, Ben Kerry and Sarah Fox

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