2014's Biggest Disappointments in the Gaming Industry - Part 2


  • 2014's Biggest Disappointments in the Gaming Industry - Part 2

    Let's continue where I left off in "2014's Biggest Disappointments in the Gaming Industry - Part 1" from yesterday!

    Xbox One Lacks a Screenshot Feature
    The Xbox One shipped with even fewer features than the PlayStation 4 did, but a lot of cool new features have been added to the system regularly throughout the year. However, it still lacks a feature that fans have wanted from the start: The ability to take screenshots. The system already has the ability to record short gameplay clips but it can't take a simple screenshot? The PlayStation 4 had this feature in from the start and is personally one of my favorite features on the console. On the PS4, the call for more games to feature a "photo mode" has taken off because of how useful and fun it is.

    That's not even mentioning that sharing screenshots online is essentially free advertising for the game and for the console it was taken on. Microsoft constantly notes that they are still working on adding the functionality to the Xbox One but there is still no date given on when that might actually happen.

    Timed Exclusives
    I generally don't have any issues when a first-party game is announced as being exclusive to one platform or one console. These things happen and it's simply a part of business. What I do take issue with is when a sequel to a multi-platform, third-party franchise is announced as being exclusive to a single platform.

    Now, the interesting thing about Rise of the Tomb Raider is that Microsoft initially made it sound like the game was going to be permanently exclusive on the Xbox One. Some poking and prodding later, they finally admitted that it was simply going to be a timed exclusive. It very well may not have been as big of an issue if Microsoft was up front with their business deal but they decided to skirt the issue as long as possible until the public outcry became too much.

    Don't think I'm singling out Microsoft and Rise of the Tomb Raider either. We have seen exclusive content released for Destiny on the PlayStation 4 that the Xbox One players will not get until later in 2015. Call of Duty continues the tradition of first releasing DLC on the Xbox platform. We have seen Bayonetta 2 released exclusively on the Wii U. I'm willing to give Bayonetta 2 a pass because without Nintendo, the game would not have been made, period. Most recently, we see that Street Fighter V is exclusive to the PlayStation 4. Is the situation for Street Fighter V closer to the deal that Microsoft has for Rise of the Tomb Raider or closer to the situation Nintendo had with Bayonetta 2 where the game wouldn't even be made if it wasn't for some high profile outside financial assistance? Nobody really knows.

    Deals like this are terrible for everybody no matter which console you prefer. It starts off just being one or two games or content that are exclusive to a platform but then it turns into more and more and more. Eventually it boils down to whichever company has the biggest checkbook. When that happens, nobody really wins.

    Chromatic Aberration and "Cinematic" Gameplay
    In every game I played that used Chromatic Aberration, there is only one that I didn't mind, Alien: Isolation. The reason for that is because that graphical effect actually made sense! The entire game was made to look and feel like the old VHS releases of the Alien films. In other games, it feels out of place and if not implemented properly, it can make you feel like your eyes are actually going bad.

    The example image above is from Lords of the Fallen around when the game released. At first glance, the full sized image may simply look a little fuzzy to you. Take a look at the mountains in the background or the flag on the right side of the image. Notice how to the left of edges it looks red and to the right side of edges it's green? That's Chromatic Aberration in a nutshell. In the real world, it's actually an error caused by lenses being unable to converge all colors to the same point. Yep, game makers are now adding in actual visual errors into their games in an effort to make them more "cinematic" in appearance.

    Stop that. Unless you can add the effect so that it's as subtle as can possibly be, don't even add it. Don't even think about adding it. If you can't do that, at least make it so that the effect can be turned off independently of other visual effects. At least Lords of the Fallen was updated later to allow users to disable the effect if they so desired, though other games were never given that luxury.

    Speaking of "cinematic" gameplay though, let's talk about those black bars. You saw them used already in The Evil Within just a couple of months ago. You'll see them again in the PS4 exclusive The Order: 1886. The big problem here is that it cuts off the top and bottom edges where you would normally see your environment. The Evil Within's bars, prior to a PC patch giving players the option of turning them off, made it so that you often couldn't see objects or enemies on the ground near your position. Climbing down a ladder? You can forget about being able to see if it's safe to continue or not! Want to use them in a cutscene where the player doesn't have control? Fine! That's perfectly fine! That's really the only time it would make sense to use the black bars.

    If I wanted to play games in a 2.35:1 or even a 2.50:1 ratio, I would have bought a monitor that supports that aspect ratio, but I didn't. Most people probably didn't do that either. Most people, like me, probably have a monitor or a TV that is 16:9. So please developers, stop trying to make your games "cinematic." If there's some other reason for having to use those bars, such as the fact that it allows your game to run at a higher framerate, then tell us! Just stop tossing out how your games are "cinematic" all the time. And please, if you're adding those black bars to your game and you really don't need to for performance reasons, then don't.

    Community Reaction to Resolution Differences
    One thing I noticed more this year compared to any other year is that people love to argue about differences in resolution for games released on both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. My God, there are threads that span for dozens of pages on sites like NeoGAF where people go back and forth about how a higher resolution means one platform is more superior than the other. Or how a higher resolution means that version of the game is somehow better. Or how if a game is the same resolution on both platforms it must mean that the developer was aiming for parity and isn't developing to the strengths of such and such of a platform.

    You know what those sorts of arguments remind me of? The arguments back in the Genesis vs. SNES days, or the arguments made in the PlayStation 2 vs. Xbox days. Back then it was less about differences in resolution but a more generic "console war" type of fight. In the earlier days the arguments weren't carried out online but in school or when hanging out with friends. Now the Internet simply makes it easier for that old "console war" mentality to flare up once again. Everyone has an opinion but instead of arguing the differences in game offerings, they argue about how an increase in the number of displayed pixels means their game or platform of choice is the clearly superior one.

    Yes, I am well aware that arguing about visual differences is nothing new either but it is far more prolific now when it's less about noticeable visual changes and more about pixel counting or how 900p is in someway vastly inferior to 1080p. I play games to have fun. If the gameplay is identical across platforms, who really gives a toss about differences in resolution? That's not why I started playing games in the first place and I bet that's not why you started playing games either.

    "Next-Generation Gameplay"
    What in the world do some of these articles mean when they say they're disappointed about how games on the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 don't feature "next-generation gameplay?" Seriously, what in the hell is that?

    The last I knew, new gameplay experiences (ie: "next-generation gameplay") came from creative games and the creative developers behind those games. The PlayStation 4 and Xbox One are mere upgrades to the old generation of consoles. They feature updated hardware with a few new bells and whistles here and there but for all intents and purposes, they are just beefier versions of what we had before. New console hardware isn't going to magically create these "next-generation gameplay" experiences the industry keeps mentioning. That is precisely why I can't help but scratch my head and wonder just what some of these people mean when they say they're disappointed there isn't "next-gen" gameplay in a new game release.

    If you really want "next-gen" gameplay, you're better off looking at the Indie game scene. They are the ones that are less afraid about taking risks. They are usually at a point where they have nothing to lose if they try an idea and it fails spectacularly. Larger studios are less likely to take those kinds of risks because at the end of the day they are still more concerned about their bottom line than a new game idea that has the very real possibility of flopping. They stick with safe games that have worked for them for years. Even then, these Indie games I generically mention are still not really "next-generation gameplay." It's just called being creative. It's something that has been the case for years now, long before the new consoles ever showed up.

    So please, stop begging for "next-generation gameplay" or being disappointed when a new game doesn't feature "next-generation gameplay." That doesn't exist. That isn't even a thing. Every time that phrase is used unironically, it's clear they have no idea what exactly it is they're really asking for.

    However, virtual reality headsets on the other hand...

    Final Fantasy VII on the PlayStation 4
    Never before have I seen so many people have their hearts ripped out and stomped on than when Square Enix's Shinji Hashimoto took the stage at the PlayStation Experience. Let me set the scene for you.

    Hashimoto came out on stage. He begins to address the audience. Behind him the logo for Final Fantasy VII appears on the massive screens. The audience cheers. Fans at home cheer. I cheer. Everyone is thinking, "this is it! Final Fantasy VII is going to be given the HD treatment for the PlayStation 4! We, the fans, have wanted this for years now and they're finally giving us all what we wanted!" And then it's revealed Final Fantasy VII is coming to the PS4, but what's this? It's... it's not getting remastered? It's not even getting any visual upgrades? It's just going to be a port of the PC release of the game? That's uh... Cue the hearts being ripped out here.

    The rollercoaster of emotion from Final Fantasy and PlayStation fans was incredible.

    Continue on to page two...


    • Shawn Zipay
      Shawn Zipay commented
      Editing a comment
      (Can you guys tell that this second half used to be a lot smaller when I first split the article up after the PS4 Firmware updates section from yesterday and the Xbox One screenshot section from today? The section about Chromatic Aberration and Cinematic gameplay was added in almost last minute, plus I kept adjusting and readjusting the GamerGate section up until the wee hours of last night and even then there were things that they did literally last night and today that I did not include due to want of sleep and the fact that it was already too long of a section as it was.

      But yeah, feel free to share your thoughts on the whole list. Don't forget there IS a second page to today's part because it stretched on for a mile down the page otherwise. And feel free to mention things I may have missed.)

    • Mtrooper
      Mtrooper commented
      Editing a comment
      Zips, I just wanted to thank you for your coverage of GamerGate and the excellent writeups you've provided on it. Although going in I would've pointed to Destiny and Assasin's Creed: Unity as being the biggest disappointments in terms of actual games (being so broken), your writeup on GamerGate has (unfortunately) reminded me of the continued existence of this group (seriously? they haven't shut up yet?) and that is in itself a disappointment. The most sad thing is that while it may be great to see the movement fail by having their victims be in the spotlight, as you've highlighted, it puts all of mainstream gaming in a very negative spotlight. Disappointing indeed, but thanks for continued no-bullshit coverage of that mob.

    • Lil'Ruff
      Lil'Ruff commented
      Editing a comment
      Thanks for the list! I agree with most of the items on there. I have not had a chance to experience some of the disappointments, but have heard of them via word of mouth within the workplace or chatting with some friends on the web -- the experiences with Destiny and Titanfall to be specific. I think you nailed it.
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