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Games Inbox: What has happened to Elden Ring?



Elden Ring – not even any leaks (pic: Bandai Namco)

The Wednesday Inbox asks whether video game quality has improved over the years, as one reader wonders whatever happened to Treasure.

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Total confusion
May seems to have bene pretty dead for real news (not leaks) but it sounds like June is going to be pretty crazy with all the faux E3 events. But the one thing I still haven’t heard anything about – not a rumour, not a leak, nothing – is Elden Ring. Was getting George R. R. Martin to help on the story really a good idea for this, because it seems to have jinxed the whole thing.

Maybe a year of silence was the idea originally but I kind of doubt it. Seems more likely that things got delayed along the way and they’re not sure what’s going on. Maybe they’ve decided to make it next gen-only? Always seemed weird that it wasn’t to be honest, but then I could say the same for Cyberpunk 2077.

This is such a strange year I don’t even know where to begin. So few games, so few announcements, and just total confusion as to what’s going on. I really hope there is an E3 next year, just so we’ll know where we are and when to expect news. At the moment I have zero idea of what the release date will be for Elden Ring or even when to expect news on it!

Good or classic?
So I see the review embargo for The Last Of Us Part 2 is 12 June, a week before the game. To me that seems like a promising sign as Sony wouldn’t let reviews go out that soon if they were expecting them to be bad. I know GC can’t say anything about the game, so I won’t bother asking, but I’ll be very interested to see if this will be a 9/10 kind of a game (pretty much the minimum requirement at the moment, given the amount of hype) or a 10/10 classic.

I haven’t read the spoilers so I couldn’t really guess. And I kind of doubt you’d be able to tell anyway as I imagine context is pretty important here and you’re not going to get that off some badly written description from 4chan.

I’m one of those that was happy to get a sequel, even though I know some thought it was unnecessary, but now I feel like I don’t really know what I’m getting myself into as if you watch the trailers there’s basically no clue as to what it’s about. The only thing I do know is that I shouldn’t hope for a happy ending.

Quick release
Assuming that video was pretty much it that Dominic Cummings parody made in Dreams was pretty great. I don’t know where they got the voice track of the little girl but even if that was taken from somewhere it really was a great parody and me laugh out loud – and that hasn’t happened a lot lately!

I don’t have Dreams, and would worry I’m not creative enough to make anything much in it but between this and the Unreal Engine 5 demo it’s obvious that it’s a very powerful and, importantly, very quick tool. The Cummings thing must’ve taken less than a day, given when it went live, and that is very impressive to me.

Sony will obviously be releasing it on PlayStation 5 but I look forward to seeing not just more topical comedy, but game ideas that go from concept to some kind of realism in just a few days. And that is something we definitely need at the moment because the time it takes to make games is only getting longer and if this, and things like it, helps to shorten that then it could end up being very important indeed.

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Constant improvement
I read your reply to D Dubya with a sense of surprise and confusion. Could GameCentral, a usual defender of older games be saying that games are just better 10 years on. I guess, on a meta-scale the quality of all games has increased slightly. Better frame rates, graphics, user interface, gameplay and design, in the way that all mediums learn as they mature.

But even to say, ‘the good ones’ are better is only an opinion. Not only are there scores of games that do not have a modern day equivalent (such as Split/Second) but that while there may be more ‘good’ games today the classics of the past still hold up today or could even be considered better;

Halo 3 or Halo 5, Mass Effect 2 or Anthem, Battlefield: Bad Company 2 or… whatever number Battlefield we’re up to now…

What about The Orange Box, Zelda: Ocarina Of Time, Super Mario World… or Game Boy Tetris. Are you saying these games don’t hold up anymore?

You can even make a direct comparison between Final Fantasy 7 Remake and the original, sure the remake looks better and is more fleshed out, but it’s also only a fifth of the game, is that better?

I guess I can agree that the best games of this generation have definitely carried storytelling forward both in narrative and execution, but for me personally a lot of triple-A titles have homogenised and the best games releasing in 2010 or before had far more variety.
DarKerR (gamertag)/DarKerR-UK (PSN ID)/DarKeR_UK (PSN ID)

GC: You’re reading an awful lot into a two-sentence reply, especially as you admit that the overall level of quality has increased through the years. Remember that you, presumably, only play the good stuff, while we have to play everything of note. Suggesting that older games had more variety is a classic case of rose-tinted glasses.

Lost Treasure
God I miss Treasure. They consistently created some of the most creative and memorable boss battles in the business when they were an active developer.

What other game tasks the player with fighting a huge moth in mid-air, in an inverted position, whence forth the polyphyletic pain in the posterior is ensnared by a spider’s web and partially devoured by its architect; where the fight then resumes on its carcass as you do battle with a giant arachnid whilst simultaneously warding off its pesky offspring from causing the dead moth platform to plummet. Talk about intense!

Alien Soldier is gaming at its most concentrated awesomeness. Not even fellow boss rush triumph Cuphead can quite keep up with the balls-to-the-wall action on display here.
Galvanized Gamer
PS: Any news on just what on earth is happening over at Treasure. Didn’t they or publisher Nicalis tease a Radiant Silvergun port for Switch last year?

GC: There was talk of it in 2018, but clearly nothing ever happened. Treasure still exists but there’s no sign that they’re working on anything at the moment.

Same old complaint
I’ve no doubt The Last Of Us Part 2 and Ghosts Of Tsushima will be top quality games I will enjoy a lot. But both do resemble many games I’ve played before be it from Sony, Naughty Dog or Ubisoft.

I think this gen has been really good. There’s been stuff that could only happen this gen as the tech wasn’t there before like PlayStation VR, Nintendo Switch hardware and recording and sharing your gameplay. I also think we reached a level of graphics that really adds to the immersion and enjoyment of game worlds like God Of War and Red Dead Redemption 2. But has gameplay moved on this gen? I think the honest answer is no. Zelda: Breath Of The Wild is the most imaginative gameplay wise this gen and it runs on last gen hardware.

There’s genuine hope the next gen consoles could be more progressive than this gen. The SSDs and architecture around them will decrease load times but should also remove barriers that could have a profound effect on game design. Out of the box techniques paired with powerful middleware like the upcoming Unreal Engine 5 should make it easier for both triple-A and indie to implement their ideas. It could also help reduce costs allowing for more risk to try new ideas. The thought of what indies could do with the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X is just or more exciting than triple-A.

Both aforementioned games could surprise and I do want to play them. Breath Of The Wild has been mentioned a few times when talking about Tsushima’s world so fingers crossed. It’s a cool idea to use the environmental detail to take you to undiscovered locations rather than an Icon on a map. I just hope when you get there you don’t just clear out a camp or some other generic tick box task and there’s plenty of distraction and surprises in between locations. Out of the two it’s the game that has most potential to feel fresh and surprising.

GC: Are you implying that the previous generation was notably better in terms of gameplay innovation? Romanticising the past to complain about the present never does anyone any good, whether you’re talking about games or not.

Unexpected tribute
I just assumed Maneater was by the same people that did Jaws Unleashed, I never even thought to check. Why would anyone rip off such an old game that was never a hit or very well liked? And yes, I realise nobody but the developer can answer that one.

It did give me the excuse to reminisce about Ecco The Dolphin: Defender Of The Future though, so there’s that in its favour. I’d say that Sega should really do a new one but let’s face it, if they couldn’t be bothered to do Streets Of Rage themselves they’re never going to get round to Ecco. Especially if Maneater isn’t a hit.

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Don’t have a cow
I forgot to contribute towards the Hot Topic just gone for… bleurgh reasons. As in, I always feel deeply bleurgh. It’s a highly technical, medical term. But I would have said Earthworm Jim 2.

Other candidates like Soulcalibur 2 and Dynamite Headdy met my insanely high expectations – as did Resident Evil 4. And the likes of Soulcalibur and Resi 4 were under a lot more media scrutiny than, say, Dynamite Headdy. I say Treasure’s charming platformer only met expectations due to a salivating feature from the official Sega magazine of the time. I bought the issue for a Sonic & Knuckles feature, and incidentally it also featured both a showcase and review of the first Earthworm Jim.

And the first Earthworm Jim certainly had its moments but was probably the weakest blockbuster the Mega Drive had in that golden 1994 Christmas. Probably. I didn’t play everything! The mascot was great fun and so was the bungie jump duel over a lake of snot. Yes. Gross.

But when the sequel came out the following year, to some fanfare, it blew me away. Now, as the PlayStation and Saturn were around the corner – EJ2 (yes, as Earthworm is one word, the initials should be EJ not EWJ!) did not make quite the impact it should have. In my own view.

Apart from a disappointing third level where you float up a narrow chute with a circus backdrop, avoiding getting your balloon head popped by Evil the Cat, everything else was amazing. The second level, Lorenzo’s Soil (ha ha) had you shoot your way through dirt to make the level! That was exceptional! Then you had to save cows from alien flying saucers, for some reason. The wonderfully named and themed Level Ate and ISO 9000 – or Terry Gilliam’s Brazil: The Level. And when you had to trip over a door to get to the next level? Inspired! As close to a Mario game as Mega Drive players were going to get. I’m not knocking Sonic, but it was always driven by spectacle and not necessarily those deviously clever moments that Mario is so good at.

The final level, a race against Psycrow, was also great – and a refreshing change from a boss battle. And a major improvement on the previous game’s final level, which was a hellish experience. Sorry, I’ve rambled for so long. But I really love EJ2! It should have been Jim’s stepping stone for world domination, baby! But alas, it wasn’t to be…

Also, what was with this game’s obsession with cows? I never did get that.

Inbox also-rans
Ever since I finished The Last Of Us I’ve been waiting for the The Last Of Us Part 2. Now that it’s almost here I’m very excited. Is that okay?
Johnny five stars

GC: Were you expecting it not to be?

As someone who actually lives 20 to 30 minutes from Barnard Castle, I found your story and the concept of the game utterly hilarious! Alas, I don’t own a PlayStation 4 or Dreams, but I would definitely play it.
big boy bent
PS: I do have access to a PlayStation 4 so maybe one day I will make that epic journey to Barnard Castle. Or Barney as it’s known round here!

This week’s Hot Topic
The question for this weekend’s Inbox was suggested by reader Podge, who asks what classic game or franchise have you never played?

With so many formats over the years nobody gets to play every well-received video game that’s released but what’s the most famous one that you’ve somehow avoided? Was it because you didn’t have the right console or PC, because it didn’t appeal at the time, or simply because you didn’t have the money?

Was there any notable game you went for a long time without playing and recently got a chance to try out? What did you think of it in the end and do you have plans to catch up on the other titles you’ve missed?

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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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